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Spirit of Quebec takes over Toronto streets

Peter Hogarth

May 30, 2012

Casseroles night in Canada as it has been popularly referred, kicked off in Toronto on Wednesday May 30. All over the city, on porches and street corners; in small groups and large; people came together in their red with their kitchen noise-makers to show support for the Quebec students’ fight against austerity.

In Dufferin Grove park, just before 8:00pm a diverse group of people of all ages began to gather and gently bang on their pots and pans. As the crowd began to grow, the enthusiasm swelled and the crowd started to march behind a giant banner reading “solidarity against austerity.”

The crowd, at its height, was well over 2,000 people strong and took over the streets, imposing a march route on the small police contingent there. The pots and pans clanged for hours and home-made signs reading “support accessible education,” “make the rich pay,” “I hate law 78” and “don’t pepper spray us” were on display next to union flags and red felt squares.

The demonstration went well into the night. Several times when it seemed like the march was about to wind down, the pans began to clang and streets were overrun with jovial protestors reveling in the freedom of proudly supporting a movement that has gone beyond a mere fight to stop tuition fee increases.

After more than 100 days on strike, the imposition of the repressive anti-protest Law 78 and the incredible determination of the Quebec students, the movement is no longer a student movement, but a social movement.

It is a fight against austerity; a strong declaration that “we won’t pay for their crisis;” it is solidarity between Quebec and English Canada; it is an echo of the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement; it is a call for students across Canada to fight for better education; a call to workers to strike back and say no concessions and it is so much more.

But most importantly, it is a spark and inspiration. And for the ruling class, in Canada and around the world, it is the threat of a good example. The Quebec student movement has shown to workers across Canada that you can vote down a bad deal and you can defy injunctions.

The solidarity demonstrations organized across the world are a reflection of that sentiment. Its our job to generalize that sentiment and take it with us to our workplaces, communities and everywhere people are facing down austerity.

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