Massive crowds engulfed downtown Montreal this afternoon, marking the 100th day of student strikes and protests sparked (in part) by Quebec's plan to significantly raise tuition on May 22.
While estimates ranged wildly – from 100,000 to 500,000 in the streets – the number is less significant than the civil disobedience that has thrust Montreal into the global revolution spotlight.
The scene from above in Montreal. Picture by philmphoto.
Authorities in Quebec, trying to counter the protests that have raged for over two months, passed "emergency" legislation last Friday that suspended the winter semester and effectively made protesting illegal. (The legislation, or Bill 78, stipulates that groups of 50 or more gathering must submit itineraries to the authorities in advance or be deemed illegal.)
Students and citizens in Montreal responded to the draconian legislation by streaming into the streets and defying Bill 78 in record numbers today. While the protests have been led by the significant student population in Montreal, the protests today contained cross-sections of the population.
Noting one of the more visible and noisy marches of the day, which was gatherings of both the young and old banging on pots and pans, Steve Faguy of The Gazette Tweeted the following:
I've covered quite a few protests. Never have I seen one that so resembled an actual popular uprising.
And writer Kris Holt had this to say regarding the emergent popular uprising:
Those on my street banging pots and pans are middle-aged or older. Much more than students now.It seems that the legislature's attempts to quell protesting in Montreal has had the opposite effect, as many today streamed into the streets specifically to defy the anti-protesting emergency legislation.
As one of the student leaders, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, stated today:
"We want to make the point that there are tens of thousands of citizens who are against this law who think that protesting without asking for a permit is a fundamental right," he said, walking side-by-side with other protesters behind a large purple banner.Absurd indeed – and that absurdity seems to have awakened popular support for the students' plight, support that has increased dramatically in recent weeks.
"If the government wants to apply its law, it will have a lot of work to do. That is part of the objective of the protest today, to underline the fact that this law is absurd and inapplicable."
The global revolution has officially arrived in Canada. And with student strikes and protests set for the summer, and with more of Montreal's citizenry falling behind the students, it's a revolution that may not be ending anytime soon.
Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Greece, Israel, New York City, Montreal...
...we are witnessing an historic global uprising, as peoples across the globe continue to rise up in numbers and demand their political rights, demand social justice, demand economic fairness.
It's a struggle that is not just essential, but fundamentally human.
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