The Quebec student strike—raging in that eastern province of Canada for over 100 days now—has already been explained and analyzed countless times by political and academic minds far more qualified than my own. So my purpose for this post isn’t merely to rehash and pick apart the history and background of the events-to-date (but if you would like further info on the subject, here is a timeline of the strike from CBC News).
I believe there are two sides to every story (The Huffington Post seems to be providing balanced opinions on the subject), and I don’t claim to be an expert on the inner workings of Quebec politics. Therefore, I don’t intend to debate who’s in the wrong or who’s in the right when it comes to the tuition increase or the different stances being taken by student organizations, the Quebec government, and Montreal police. However, I do want to shed light on one particular issue that has been haunting me throughout my intake of the media's hailstorm of strike coverage.
Although I understand the turmoil over Bill 78, which students, lawyers, and much of the public (seemingly) have declared an infringement against basic human rights and freedoms, I can’t deny that I feel some of the student outrage is soaked in hypocrisy.
I understand that not all protestors are aggressive, violent extremists. But, for the ones who are, I would pose a few questions. They think Bill 78 is taking away their rights and freedoms. But what about the rights and freedoms they are stealing from others?
Take, for example, the freedom to get to work. Is it not an infringement upon the rights of Montreal commuters (who are peaceably on their way to work) to shut down the subway system with smoke bombs and bags of bricks? How about the barricading of the entrance ramp to the Champlain Bridge (one of the main arteries of the highway system into Montreal, which sees more than 160,000 crossings daily, making it the busiest bridge in Canada)?
What about the right to effectively run your business? Is it not an infringement upon the rights of Montreal business owners to effectively cut them off from their customers by setting up burning barricades in the streets, causing riots outside their doors, or even outright damaging their property by smashing out windows?
How about the right to safety? Is it not a hideous display of freedom-stamping to take away the government officials’ rights to enter their office buildings without fear of attack? Despite any qualms student organizations have with Quebec government officials, how exactly is it that they justify stooping to the level of terrorist actions by using Molotov cocktails?
And, finally, what I consider to be the pièce de résistance in their hypocrisy: What about the right to go to school? Is it not a disgusting trampling of personal rights and freedoms to turn on your fellow students by trying to prevent them from attending the classes they are paying to take? Or, even worse, by hiding your cowardly faces with masks, storming a university, and disrupting classes filled with students who have a different opinion on the issue and have decided to continue with their studies?
There you have it. This is my take on the Quebec student strike. What’s yours?