Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Baby Losers in Quebec Show Some Backbone

Ah, it is spring in Quebec and the university students in my town barricaded themselves in the main building of their university in defiant opposition to the court injunction that was granted that would prevent them from demonstrating on university grounds to protest a substantial rise in tuition fees.

Much to my delight someone in Quebec has finally has the balls to stand up and say “No” to one of, if not the most corrupt government in North America.

The same day that the injunction was granted, we learned that the former vice-premier of Quebec, Natalie Normandeau, was implicated in yet another political scandal plaguing the Jean Charest-led Liberals.

Engineering and construction firms held fund raisers on her behalf and she returned the favor by granting a 10 million dollar subsidy in support of one of their projects in clear opposition to the advice her ministerial officers had given to her. Hell, she even had the gumption to admit that she accepted tickets for her and her entourage to attend Celine Dion and Madonna concerts from one of the owners of the construction companies who is now facing charges.

Given these set of circumstances, it is not surprising that the present Minister of Education doesn’t garner a lot of support when she states that the students’ rejection of the increase in tuition fees goes against the desires of a democratically legitimate government, duly elected by the population.

Yeah right.

What’s really at issue in this struggle is not whether the size of the increase is justifiable based on comparisons with other states and provinces in two countries that have the some of the highest income inequalities to be found in the developed world.

What’s at issue is the nature of the decision being made and who is making the decision.

In short, the Charest government and its supporters have profited immensely from their control of their public purse and they are in the process of offloading the shortfalls in revenues arising from their incapacity to manage the affairs of the state effectively on a docile, gullible public.

In the previous budget, the Quebec government announced a regressive poll tax of $200 per person under the guise of a health tax, which people will be paying for the first time this year. There was hardly a peep from a society built to cater to the needs of the baby boomer generation.

But hold on. What about the question of intergenerational social justice?

Fortunately, it is the baby loser generation, those presently attending university and college and who are in fact the offspring of the baby boomers that are saying,

“Enough is enough, mom and dad. Although you might have sold out and are able to hold your nose against the stench of political corruption, we are drawing a line in the sand. We are not going to simply roll over while you stick us with the largest IOU in Quebec’s history.”

Spring time in Quebec. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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