[Editorial note: Longstanding Montréal activist Sam Boskey reflects on the impact of COVID-19 in Québec and Canada, and on some of the more global implications for structural change and greater social justice.]

 

In Montréal, looking back on the last few months, we see how the repercussions of the pandemic hit us in waves, like a triple-whammy. The first blow was social and cultural. The government-ordered lockdown and confinement immediately changed the way we spent our days, how we saw to our basic needs of food and shelter, and how we related (or not) to our fellow human beings.

The second blow was economic. Whatever activities were not suspended transformed themselves rapidly—working from home, working online, working with physical distancing. A spectre of economic collapse haunted the propertied classes. The stock-market lurched and convulsed, and oil was nearly given away. Western governments stepped in (to various degrees) with emergency injections of revenue to calm what would otherwise have been inevitable social unrest.

Social and economic activities are now resuming, in various permutations. Yet the impact of the pandemic’s third blow—at the political level—is still little understood. Many questions—what damage the pandemic has caused to our democratic functioning, how we understand its highly uneven impact on the vulnerable, what is to be changed and how we go about it—remain unanswered.

 

The social impact

While in March it might have made some sense to believe that a plague had no favourites and that we were “all in this together,” it soon became apparent that our various forms of social stratification would determine the contours of the pandemic’s penetration.

Montréal was the epicentre of the virus in Québec. Some of the first local cases of the virus were traced to world-travellers and attendees of fancy parties, but community spread was soon concentrated in traditionally vulnerable communities: the poor, immigrants, racialized groups, lower-educated, low-skilled workers, gig workers, and single-parent families—those for whom physical distancing at home or at work was not feasible, and those whose economic survival required putting their physical survival at risk.

Civil society’s quick response in providing aid to neighbours—via food collections, Facebook pages full of resources, shopping and cooking collectives—demonstrated a widespread acknowledgement that existing public and para-public services were unable to improvise with appropriate haste, after being completely gobsmacked by the pandemic.

Community motivation to provide services was diligent and comprehensive. But why so many of their neighbours were vulnerable and helpless was a question rarely raised by volunteers, beyond the usual superficial tropes about problems with “government corruption” or “private-sector greed.” (This calls to mind a quote by Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Pessoa Câmara: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why so many people are poor, they call me a communist.”) And once steps were taken to address the most basic needs, concerns about people’s ongoing living conditions (including the mental-health impacts of their confinement) did not seem to have the same staying power.

The conditions and dire statistics of seniors’ long-term care homes (CHSLDs – centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée) became a particular focus. Ever-changing and erratic strategies for these seniors’ homes—the transfer of non-symptomatic hospital patients into long-term care homes, the movement of staff between different long-term care homes, the government call for medical specialists to work as orderlies, the requirement of medical professionals to go into quarantine, the barring of family members from visiting their loved ones, the lack of masks, and finally the summoning of the military to bridge staff shortages—all contributed to a feeling that this system was very much out of control.

Consequently, in Québec, most of the government’s visible efforts were focussed on massaging public opinion and trying to ensure a modicum of trust in its spokespersons. Efforts to sound caring and avuncular took priority over informing the public about the sometimes unpleasant measures that were proving effective in other jurisdictions, even when such measures were proposed by local epidemiologists. Not surprisingly, many wondered if these spokespersons knew what they were talking about, and some began to embrace conspiracy theories.

It is telling (though unfortunately so) that the expression “social distancing” has been used to describe the required behaviours during the pandemic, clearly indicating a strategy that requires our keeping apart from others. Some have suggested instead that we promote “physical distancing and social solidarity.”

But most of us were indeed socially distant throughout the lockdown. During this time, our quotidian concerns turned to what we could see and touch. Our preoccupations bubbled through short, ever-changing attention spans, fuelled by the news cycle of the media and devoid of much social context.

Some of our concerns were health-related: Are our experts (WHO, Drs. Arruda, Tam, Fauci, etc.) credible? Do masks help? What should be reopened and how fast? Should we denounce an absence of distancing to the police hotline? Some tied government policy to opinion polls, based on leaders’ popularity. Some focussed on the consequences of certain government adjustments: Are changes to parking and bicycle paths a violation of (drivers’) fundamental rights? Others were more specious: Is the pandemic real or a plot (maybe by Bill Gates)? Was the virus Chinese in origin? Some of these cyclical topics added to the climate of conspiracy theory, xenophobia and racism.

Different levels of government did implement some positive initiatives here in Québec and in Canada, certainly. But overall, the execution of government policies during the confinement tended, in many cases, to exacerbate the difficulties of the most vulnerable: prison inmates’ health and safety was off the government’s COVID radar for weeks, and homeless people, Black youth and members of Indigenous and other racialized communities were hit with $1,500 fines by police for physical distancing violations. While rental board-ordered evictions were temporarily suspended, no rent suspension or reduction was encouraged or tolerated by the government. Additionally, the irony of requiring that face masks be worn in order to be able to obtain government services, by the same government that had only recently enacted a law barring persons whose faces were not uncovered from receiving services, has been widely noted.

Along these lines of racism, the pandemic brought to light some of our more troubling social reflexes. In the weeks before the mid-March confinement, restaurants in Montréal’s Chinatown were already nearly deserted, suggesting that anti-Asian racism was alive and well and that the xenophobic diatribes of far-right leaders like Trump had made their impact felt even in Montréal. After all, no similar boycott of businesses in Little Italy was apparent when Lombardy became the world’s next major hot zone.

In many countries around the world, pent-up frustration—catalyzed in part by feelings of powerlessness during the confinement—has contributed to robust protests on long-simmering social issues. This is particularly true in the United States, which in the span of these tumultuous months has been rocked by demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd (including the Seattle occupation), and widespread denunciations of racist statues and names of sports teams. In Québec, anonymous or identified denunciations of sexual aggressors have also continued, and women’s shelters have been raising the alarm about heightened domestic violence under COVID confinement.

But the connections between racism, sexism, authoritarianism and the ever-present pandemic were not at the forefront of political demands.

 

The economic impact

When compared to other parts of the world, the economic underpinnings of G20 countries like Canada may not, in the end, be substantially threatened by the pandemic. Unlike in a conventional war, COVID has not damaged any local factories, roads, trains, airports or mines; the workforce is as educated as before, and the global stock markets (including oil prices) have already recovered considerably since the jagged dip in mid-March.

What has been badly hit, with little promise of quick or viable recovery, are economic activities that are socially consumed: cultural and musical performance, educational classes, restaurants, bars and tourist activities. The sudden transfer of much work to the home has affected the use of downtown urban space and buildings and all the related services in those neighbourhoods. The jobs of those who provide services for consumers are traditionally amongst the most precarious in our society, and workers in these fields have already felt the pressure to find other areas of gainful employment. In the many countries around the world in which tourism is a major driver of the economy, the short-term future indeed looks grim.

Has the pandemic forced the state to steer itself to a place where satisfaction of public economic and social needs becomes a permanent prioritized function? Unfortunately, it has not. Many nation-states, including Canada, have managed to bring in sweeping short-term measures that might have appeared unthinkable a year ago. To take one example, there has been little discussion of the fact that city buses in Montréal were free for several months, when generations of calls for even reduced fares had fallen on deaf governmental ears.

Yet the justification for a consistent revenue stream for workers, students, landlords and employers was not based on any previous critique of globalization or neo-liberalism. It was instead presented as a “necessary and reasonable” quid pro quo for the government-ordered shutdown of much of the economy. Even conservative business spokespersons, who usually howl at any intervention in the “free market,” were glad that workers and their employers continued to have a cash flow throughout the lockdown. This meant that customers could continue to spend (buy) throughout the pandemic, even while their consumption patterns were altered. Overall, the clear net result was to prop up a capitalist economy, not to threaten it. Without such intervention, there would have been widespread contestation of the state.

The pandemic will result in some second thoughts, at least in the short term, as to the wisdom of depending on global markets. The need for more local self-sufficiency/economic sovereignty has been clearly demonstrated by the scarcity of some foods, medicine, masks and ventilators. “Supply chain” is a term that has entered into the vocabulary of everyday life. Indeed, the most selfish procurement strategies (such as the U.S. federal government’s seizing of state-bought masks) destroyed any illusion of inter-territorial solidarity during the crisis. And a global consensus on the distribution of an eventual vaccine is hard to imagine.

This unplanned and practically unprecedented level of spending by Canada’s federal government does not appear to be scaring the business class. On the contrary, handouts to the unemployed generate demand for everyday products, and sales and income are both taxable. The federal treasury has financed this through the sale of bonds, which have been snapped up by the investment community even though they carry lower interest rates than prior to COVID. The federal government, then, is seen as a safe investment in troubled times. And, as a consequence of long-term borrowing at low rates, the government’s repayment contribution may be barely visible in a single annual budget.

The outlook for provincial governments’ finances is nowhere near as rosy. That said, in Canada, our governments have demonstrated that when there is adequate impetus, they can deliver income to (nearly) all, place negligent private services under trusteeship, mobilize the army and close borders, all without putting into question the predominantly capitalist model of service delivery.

 

The political response and impact 

One might imagine that a pandemic which has illuminated so many of the contradictions of contemporary capitalist society would elicit a heightened cry to bring the system to its knees.

Democracy was virtually absent throughout most governments’ approach to the fight against COVID. In the case of Canadian provincial politics, with legislatures suspended, over 30 Québec government orders-in-council at the cabinet level and over 50 ministerial orders were issued without any prior notice or public examination. These orders empowered authorities (including police) to exercise wide powers. The attitudes demonstrated by the politicians were often condescending and demonstrated an absence of accountability, while local death tolls climbed. There was virtually no involvement of community groups in the design of local implementation strategies.

While some governments have shown that they can act with speed to save consumer spending, there is no indication they will voluntarily assume a mandate to eradicate the class-related conditions that made the spread of the pandemic so dangerous—dense housing, inadequate health and safety protection for workers, or increasing precarity of employment.

Political commentators across the world who have filled their blogs with explanations and analyses are far from being able to actually influence government policies. Local Québec organizations have been promoting anti-racism, immigrants’ rights, civil liberties and anti-domestic violence campaigns during the confinement. Groups such as the Ligue des droits et libertés, Solidarity Across Borders and the housing rights organization, FRAPRU, have raised public alarms and occasionally won some concessions. However, it has been difficult to discern any political education or helpful analysis from more mainstream sources.

During the confinement, political parties in Canada refrained from any general critique of the federal and provincial leaders, as if their policies and behaviours were above reproach. The visible leadership of the federal New Democratic Party and the provincial Québec Solidaire were absent during the early weeks, while the media focused on the governments’ daily press briefings. If these parties contributed behind the scenes to improving programs and policy, most of the electorate remained unaware.

And yet there was much to worry about. In Québec, all the unions systematically criticized the government for its decrees suspending public-sector collective agreements, its lack of protection for workers, its forced deployment of teachers and certain health professionals, its refusal to pay hazard bonuses or to negotiate proper wages for patient attendants and other frontline non-nursing personnel.

In my home city, Projet Montréal, which forms Montréal’s municipal administration, has acted within its limited jurisdiction to facilitate pedestrian and bicycle circulation during the pandemic, in the aim of making the city more livable. Yet because its leaders have not engaged in explaining why such changes are important in facilitating a change in patterns of urban transport, such initiatives have come under attack by those who want car and parking habits to return to the old normal. When the city holds “consultations” on local micro-adjustments to traffic, rather than on overall visions of new forms of mobility, residents take the questions to mean “are you in favour of personal inconvenience?” That was the case even before the pandemic. In such cases, our collective assumption of social responsibility moves no further ahead.

This brings us to the more general question of government leadership in tackling the immediate future. In Québec, an important example is the government’s economic recovery plan put forward in Bill 61, which has recently been put on hold. The business-friendly Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government’s “recovery strategy” was heavy on infrastructure, proposing a veritable shopping list of “concrete” projects. The government argued that the urgency of relaunching the economy “required” bypassing the usual environmental evaluations. There was no focus in the recovery plan on core issues such as climate change (ignoring last year’s massive demonstrations), the social safety net, the financing of social housing and more stringent remedies for private-sector tenants, stricter employment standards, or stemming police racism.

Our school boards have as yet shown no signs of mobilizing their adult education divisions in the massive task of re-orienting and retraining the significant proportion of workers whose jobs have been impacted by COVID.

Meanwhile, as citizen and media attention has been focused on the virus, our federal government in Ottawa has been continuing to jack up problematic foreign policies. It has extended support for the overthrow of elected governments in Bolivia and Venezuela and for the impending annexation of the West Bank, and has been part of the increasing tensions with China. Here in Canada, there is the continued promotion of pipelines, as well as announcements of billions of dollars to be spent on new military aircraft and drones.

Most of the public’s focus is still on the short-term: keeping up with ever-changing proposed protocols for the return of students to schools or for public gatherings. Some perspicacious souls are questioning what will happen when the “generous” government handouts stop. But there has been precious little discussion of issues involving the bigger picture, such as preventing greenhouse gas emissions from returning to pre-lockdown levels, or providing the long-term solidarity that will be required with countries whose economies have been decimated by the virus. As if these key issues were not part of our concerns or responsibilities!

 

Conclusion

The pandemic lockdown has demonstrated that in the immediate aftershock of such social upheaval, it is possible for both government and civil society to identify some of society’s most vulnerable members and fashion some short-term palliative measures. In this, we are able to harness the initial spirit of “we’re all in this together.”

But entrepreneurial interests will soon regain ascendancy, and our caring about “each and every one” will wane, with the private sector once again overriding the public good.

None of the “public” institutions that support the vulnerable—the healthcare system, the rental boards, the welfare offices, the educational institutions—are in any meaningful sense democratic. And the governments that mandate the often well-intentioned bureaucrats who run such institutions have demonstrated no interest in altering the fundamental structures or values that promote the conditions for vulnerability.

The contradictions of social and economic inequity have been clearly demonstrated during the pandemic. The point, however, is to change them. This will require coherent political education, leadership and action, which we have not yet begun to see.

 

 

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This is an adaptation of the presentation I gave at the launch of the English-language edition of Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois’ book, In Defiance. It was translated from the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award winner for nonfiction, Tenir tête (Lux Éditeur).

When asked to speak at this book launch, I gladly accepted. As soon as the book first came out in French, I bought it and read it right away.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is a strong political commentator. He speaks with authority in a clear language. Unlike many politicians, he doesn’t use double talk (langue de bois). He wants to inform. This should be a common quality among all communicators and media personalities, but it isn’t.

During the printemps érable, the so-called Maple Spring of 2012, as Nadeau-Dubois became a lightning rod for government and media attention and scorn, personifying all that was dangerous and evil during the “social crisis,” he never flinched and was never apologetic about the positions he was defending. He behaved with dignity and never wavered from his progressive approach. In my opinion, he was the only person on any side of these events who came out looking good and sounding credible.

Since then, as a regular critic on Radio-Canada‘s morning show, debating the news of the day with other (generally slower) commentators on a variety of topics, he always comes across as well prepared, remarkably well-read and capable of extracting teachable political points from complicated situations, while others rely on knee-jerk reflexes. He is mature and responsible. We are lucky to have him in our community.

I want you to read this book. I read it twice: first in French when it first came out, and then again this past week in English. I enjoyed it both times.

Some chapters are exciting play-by-play descriptions of certain events in 2012, replete with colourful commentary and a personal analysis:

  • the first of the student strike votes, at the CEGEP de Valleyfield
  • his visit to the SQ (Québec provincial police) headquarters on Parthenais Street – a surreal adventure. He was there at the invitation of the SQ. The police were aware of death threats against him and wanted to discuss how to protect him. On his arrival, he was taken to an interrogation room from which he couldn’t leave; he realized he might be subject to intimidation or blackmail, or might be asked to become an informer. When the police were later questioned about this incident, they claimed not to remember.
  • watching from the visitors’ gallery at the Assemblée Nationale as the infamous Bill 78 was being adopted; the debates proceeded “often with scant regard for grammar,” and were far poorer in content than any of the student meetings.
  • the public reaction to Bill 78: nightly marches in many neighbourhoods, beating pots and pans as an act of civil disobedience. For Nadeau-Dubois, a profound respect for law and democracy is what explains and justifies protest against those who abuse it: the civil disobedience of 2012 was not contesting the existence of laws, but the transgressions of those who enacted them. In this sense, civil disobedience is a profoundly democratic activity.
  • the contempt-of-court procedures brought against him by a non-striking student, alleging that Nadeau-Dubois did not comply with the terms of an injunction. This raises the question: does a student’s individual right to attend class trump collective rights of a political nature when a majority has democratically approved a strike? Nadeau-Dubois cites a well-known decision of former Québec Superior Court Chief Justice Jules Deschênes in a case involving the Montréal transit corporation (STM), where the judge held that contempt-of-court proceedings were not an appropriate remedy for the courts to use to settle social issues. (The decision of the Superior Court, that Nadeau-Dubois was in contempt of court, was overturned in 2015 by the Court of Appeal. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada should be heard in 2016.)

In other chapters of the book, Nadeau-Dubois presents an extensive social and political explanation of the student protests:

  • The effect of the tuition fee increases on accessibility to higher education
    • Not only will a fee hike affect accessibility in the short-term, the fear of long-term debt associated with increased fees will deter potential students from continuing their education. The purpose of the student strike was to guarantee access to higher education.
    • Problems stemming from increased tuition fees in the US include an enrolment imbalance among certain disciplines (as students fearing higher debt avoid humanities, social sciences or arts programs that could lead to lower-paying jobs); a higher rate of attrition among faculty members, a proliferation of managers, attacks on academic freedom, lowering of academic standards, etc.

 

  • The role that the fee increases play in the government’s intention to change the role of the university
    • The government’s message that each “must pay his fair share” characterizes indebtedness as a personal investment, where individuals must share the costs but do not share the wealth; it sees higher education merely as a lever for personal gain rather than as an asset to society as a whole.
    • Nadeau-Dubois explains that inexpensive education has been responsible for the creation of Québec’s middle class since the Quiet Revolution. A generation later, those now in control want to deprive the next generation of the same benefits. It is becoming increasingly difficult to stay in the middle class.
    • It is false to pretend that lower taxes ‒ with students forced to assume a greater part of the costs of education ‒ will benefit the majority; workers’ standard of living is maintained through high-quality public services; lower taxes lead to fewer public services and to a lower standard of living for workers.
    • The university’s striving for “excellence” implies an abandonment of its role to serve the local community. Universities must become “engines of economic development, centres of intellectual entrepreneurship” (according to Judith Woodsworth of Concordia); higher learning “must coincide with the needs of business” (according to Guy Breton from the Université de Montréal). Universities should become agents of just-in-time delivery to the market place.

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This discourse is accompanied by a privatization of knowledge itself (e.g., patents which are sold by universities to the private sector). There is a trend for universities, financed by the public and students, to assume a greater proportion of research and development on behalf of private corporations. The concept of the university solely as an economic development machine, Nadeau-Dubois argues, is insidious.

  • The dismantling of the Quiet Revolution and the re-engineering of the state
    • The current attack on public services (education is but one example) was launched in 2003 by the Liberal government of (former Conservative) Jean Charest, aimed at rolling back the gains of the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s and 70s, put into place by a very different Liberal Party at the time.
    • Dictated by a corporate agenda, this “user-pay” model, which has already resulted in significant increases in fees for electricity, day care, health care, etc., is revoking the principles of solidarity and accessibility developed over a generation. This “revolt of the rich,” the war on taxes, amounts to a war against what those taxes pay for: education, public health services, pensions, culture, etc.
  • The role of media in attempts to isolate and delegitimize the protests
    • Those who see politics as little other than the defence of private interests would logically see the student strike through that filter and be unable to fathom the concept of solidarity between students and the rest of society.
    • The mainstream media was substantially hostile to the student protests. The protesters’ arguments weren’t given any serious treatment or criticism; the students were regarded as illegitimate. “This is a confrontation between reason and madness… It’s hard to engage in a debate with pots and pans” (Alain Dubuc in La Presse).
    • CLASSE, an expanded coalition around ASSÉ, the radical student federation, was often taken to task by the media for its slow response time, its idealism and its (time-consuming) democratic procedures.
    • The media tried to “impose” a role of “leader” on Nadeau-Dubois, who refused the label, explaining that he was a spokesperson for the democratic student bodies; much of the media was unable to accept that such a spokesperson would refuse to make unilateral decision on behalf of the protesters;
    • Nadeau-Dubois explains the difference between his approach and that of Léo Bureau-Blouin, the president of another student federation (and soon afterwards a Parti Québecois candidate and elected member of the Assemblée Nationale) who ended up playing into journalists’ expectations and proportionately lost influence and support amongst students. Nadeau-Dubois saw himself walking a difficult line, often displeasing both sides. “I could have left my position as spokesperson to become a star, like Paris Hilton, representing no one but myself.”

The student protest, understood at the beginning to be about tuition and other student fees, grew into a broad-based political protest against government policies, exacerbated by Bill 78. In October 1970, to justify the imposition of the War Measures Act, the government of the day invoked the concept of likely or imminent insurrection (“apprehended insurrection”) following a political rally of (merely!) several thousand supporters of the FLQ. In comparison, in 2012, a quarter of a million people deliberately engaged in civil disobedience; hundreds took part in “illegal” nightly demonstrations week after week; 400 lawyers, dressed in their courtroom cloaks, marched in protest against Bill 78.

Naomi Klein, in her introduction to the English edition of Nadeau-Dubois’ book, says that the greatest danger to a government is people’s belief that change is possible. The response of the governments (both provincial and municipal) in 2012 was to unleash the police on the protesters. A report by the Ligue des droits et libertés showed that the majority of the more than 3,500 arrests during the protests took place during mass “kettling” operations, i.e., indiscriminate, non-targeted police arrests, which were unquestionably a violation of the protestors’ freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

In the end, the Liberal government called a snap election, which it lost.

In Defiance is not the definitive history or chronology of the events of 2012, nor did Nadeau-Dubois intend it to be. As I have said, it is a combination of selected personal memoirs with a description of the social and political background, to make the events intelligible to an outside reader.

Still, there are several aspects I’m sorry were not included in the book:

  • We learn little about ASSÉ itself, which groups were its members, and why and how it differed from the other student federations;
  • While Nadeau-Dubois speaks of intensive political debates at different instances of ASSÉ, there is little information on the content or even the topics of these discussions;
  • There is hardly any mention of Jeanne Reynolds, the other co-spokesperson with Nadeau-Dubois during the protests. The one time I heard Reynolds speak, which was on completely different topic, she was easily as dynamic as Nadeau-Dubois. (At height of the media hysteria about the irresponsibility of student protest, a small article mentioned that Reynolds had just won a provincial prize for the highest marks in a particular subject.)
  • How did Nadeau-Dubois see the role of union federations? During the Maple Spring, unions offered material support to students and at times, some (welcome or unwelcome) advice. The extent of union participation in supporting the protests, especially after Bill 78, had an important effect on the ongoing events. But this is not discussed at all.

Maybe Nadeau-Dubois will deal with these issues in a future book.

I welcome the English translation of this book, for English-speaking readers inside and outside Québec.

The book explains many aspects of the protest and the roots of 2012, which may already be familiar to Québec anglophones who read French and follow political affairs closely. It is particularly important for anglophones who rely on the mainstream English media, as they were very badly served in 2012.

It took a long time for the English media to realize that something was going on – students protesters had set up a small tent city in front of the Education Ministry offices in Montreal as early as the summer of 2011– and to start covering the protests. Probably because the English media were not particularly interested in what French CEGEP students were doing, it missed the first of the votes and strikes around the province. For a long time, the fact that English CEGEP and university students were also voting and taking part in the protests did not make the front pages.

In terms of providing background information and editorial comment in the mainstream media, the dozen or so major French-language dailies with regular political columnists offered many opinion pieces, which were for the most part one-sided.

In English, however, the Montreal Gazette, a second-rate paper at best, had little in the form of commentary and opinion to edify its readers. Whatever it did muster generally characterized the protests taking place across Québec  as simply the misguided work of self-interested, irresponsible, anti-democratic, greedy students.

A notable exception, though clearly not part of the mainstream media, was the student television station at Montreal’s Concordia University. CUTV, broadcast on the Internet, did an excellent job of covering the protests. Night after night, its crew, portable cameras on their shoulders, walked the streets with the demonstrators, interviewing students and other protesters and passersby, in English and French. They showed and described the police tactics. Sitting safely in front of my computer screen in another part of the city, I could follow, on any night of the week, the tear-gassing, the kettling, the arrests of the protesters. No other media was doing an equivalent job; often, they weren’t even present. CUTV deserves recognition for its contribution to information access and human rights during the protests.

Nadeau-Dubois’ book will finally let English readers understand much of what happened in 2012. The experience of student protests in English Canada might be somewhat different than what we have experienced in Québec. Widespread post-secondary education in Québec is relatively recent: high schools in rural areas were not common until the early 1960s; CEGEPs weren’t in place until the late 60s and universities did not exist in much of the province until the 70s and 80s. These institutions contributed to the economic, intellectual and social development of contemporary Québec. An attack on the role of the universities and their accessibility may have provoked a greater reaction and resonated more widely in Québec than elsewhere in Canada, and this book will greatly contribute to understanding this phenomenon.

 

 

In Defiance, by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois

Translation by Lazer Lederhendler

Foreword by Naomi Klein

 

Paperback / softback, 190 pages

ISBN 9781771131827

Published June 2015 by Between the Lines