The Last Day of Action

Students Take to the Streets Ahead of Provincial Elections

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Montreal to support a change of government in the upcoming provincial election. Photo Elsa Jabre
Photo Elsa Jabre
Photo Elsa Jabre
Photo Elsa Jabre
Photo Jamie Klinger

What has become a monthly tradition of en masse civic protests in downtown Montreal had its last incarnation of the summer Wednesday afternoon.

While in the early summer months the red square became the symbol of general social discontent in Quebec, this protest was specifically focused on what Quebec’s new government should be.

Now, with the provincial election less than two weeks away, the potential for a change of government spurred most of the conversation and signage at the demonstration.

Signs for Quebec Solidaire and the Parti Quebecois were scattered throughout the tens of thousands marching, who spanned a stretch of 16 city blocks, along with a few placards supporting the Option Nationale party.

And while even the provincial Green Party had some signage, unsurprisingly, there was no visible support for the Coalition Avenir du Québec or the Liberal Party, unless you count defaced PLQ signs modified to serve the protesters’ purpose.

Speaking against the CAQ and Liberal threat to social services, the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante never explicitly threw their support behind a party, instead emphasizing the importance of a change in government.

“There’s no shame being called revolutionaries in a society like ours. It’s something to be glorified!” proclaimed one CLASSE spokesperson, once the three-hour-long walk had led them from Place du Canada to Place Jacques-Cartier in Old Montreal.

The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec and the Fédération nationale des enseignants et enseignantes du Québec were also in attendance to throw their support behind the potential for a government in support of state-funded social services.

The teachers’ union for UQAM and several Montreal CEGEPS were also among the marchers. While Montreal CEGEPS have voted against continuing an unlimited general strike, a one-day strike was instituted to allow the students to attend the Day of Action.

Continuing the trend of daytime protests, people of all ages and walks of life were in the streets to show their support for the end of the Charest government. From the grey-haired to children who were likely yet to enter grade school, there was no prevailing demographic amid the casseroles, feminists, musicians and anarchists.

“La loi speciale, on s’en fout,” sang a small group of young children, in a cleaned-up version of the popular chant “on s’en calisse.”

Video Pierre Chauvin