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(en) Turnaround at the Youth summit: the protesters take the prize

from nicolasphebus@yahoomail.com
Date Mon, 28 Feb 2000 06:15:25 -0500


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Quebec – Marked by an outraged radical
anti-establishment youth who literally stold the show,
the « battle of Quebec » finished with new
demonstrations Thursday and announced an almost
complete political turnaround of the government.

Again a demo!

Once again around 7a.m. Thursday, more than 100
demonstrators showed up at the congress centre
(upperside*) with the intention to block the doors of
the Summit. Around twenty demonstrators, taking the
opportunity that awaited them, decided to enter the
interior and do a unexpected sit-in  in the foyer. Not
having the inclination to play the martyrs however,
they got up and left when the anti-riot squad arrived.

A banner, made in a hurry by some anarchists in the
afternoon of the 22th, which read : « Welcome to the
Summit of the Elite and their lies; No to Workfare and
Cheap Labour » was displayed in the hall and the
demonstrators took it with them throughout the day.
The cops made one arrest, a drunk student (at 7a.m.!).
The demo followed him to the police station and the
Court of (in)justice (which is situated in the
lowerside** and about a half-hour march). The arrestee
was liberated during the day.

The reformists are a minority at the Counter-Summit

On the Counter-Summit’s side, the afternoon was
devoted to a large general assembly (GA) for which the
goal was to adopt the demands of the manifest emerging
from the autonomous popular-youth coalition‘s
(CAP-Jeunesse) effort. Between 50 to 75 persons
participated at the GA. In view of the obvious
inexperience of the organizers at the Counter-Summit
and their contempt (unless it was just ignorance) of
basic direct democratic rules, a team of anarchists,
including the author of these lines, had straight out
took charge of the GA by changing the president of the
assembly and the secretary.

After that, things started rolling. The resolutions
were finally adopted by the end of the day (at 6p.m.,
the GA started at 2p.m.!) demonstrating that the
reformists were in a minority amongst the radicals and
anarchists. A first proposal, asking that the
Counter-Summit’s manifest contain only strictly
political affirmations and not a grocery list of
demands was adopted by a large majority. In concrete
terms, the social demands were relegated to a working
document supposedly to represent the « worries » of
participants at the Counter-Summit.

A sign of the implantation and weight of the
anarchists amongst the politicized youth, one proposal
aiming to regroup all the « progressives » into one
politically active party throughout the country was
beaten by a large majority. Moreover, one proposal
demanded direct democracy and condemned parliamentary
democracy and also appealed for a global general
strike (A pious voice, but good) which the goal would
be the « re-appropriation of our milieu – school,
neighborhood, workplaces – by the population » was
equally adopted by a strong majority. When the
facilitator asked everyone in the room if they
realized that they were objectively siding  for a
libertarian social revolution, the response was
massively « yes ». 

Finally, a bed-in took place at Laval University
during the evening. A half a dozen conferences were
given and at the same time numerous workshops.
Unfortunately, at the moment of the general assembly
(which started at midnight!) only a minority of the
participants were still there (around 50 out of 200).
Let’s equally remember that, from Monday on, some
general strike assemblies will took place at two
colleges and the Humanities department at the
University in the area. At the same time, the strike
at UQAM was renewed for one more week (except since
that’s the spring break that doesn’t say too much).
Also a demo took place in Montreal on Friday, but at
this time we don’t have much info on how it went.

And from the side of the collaborators and the
government?

The (official) Quebec and Youth Summit ended on
Thursday evening by the government attempting to
recover from the situation (a success? only time will
tell). While the government announced, in the days
preceding the Summit, it’s intention on discussing
primarily reimbursing the debt, the subject wasn’t
however touched. The reason? Major unions, the
teachers’ union (CEQ) and the CSN clearly announced
that if they were going to talk about the debt they
were going to leave. The simmering discontent of union
workers who have not yet digested the union heads’
support given for the deficit zero at the Summit in
1996 is surely for something in this “wise” decision. 
Also, one must remember that the leaders of these two
large trade-unions have had to face a spirit of
organized revolt amongst the workers these last two
years which translates into real elections which
threatened their power during union conference, which
usually doesn’t happen, so....

The announcements at the closure of the Summit pointed
in the direction of a reinvestment into education (one
billion within three years) and the creation of a new
fund to help youth. Also, the government equally
announced at the same time the abolition of cuts on
welfare for shared lodging as well as indexing
benefits in June (definitely the most important
announcements for some 50,000 youth on welfare in
Quebec).

Breaking with the collaborators and the P.Q.

The collaborators and the P.Q. (rulling party in
Quebec) are going to try to make us believe that these
final announcements prove that nothing was decided in
advance and that they were right (in the case with the
collaborators) to have participated at this Summit
circus. It must be said, as loud and clear as
possible, that without the radical opposition, without
enraged youth, no gains would have been made. 

Moreover, a secret meeting with a handful of
organizers from the Counter-Summit and participants at
the « real » Summit have proven this right. According
to Charles Sainte-Marie, spokesperson at the
Counter-Summit « They [the collaborators] encouraged
us to continue [the radical struggle]. They told us
that the counter-Summit pushed them forward and gave
more weight and urgency to their demands, but it
didn’t go any farther » (quoted in an article by
Jean-Simon Gagné in Le Soleil, Saturday February 26 p.
A-18). Otherwise said, its the enraged youth in
stealing the show that permitted (real) gains for the
(artificial_ « social movements » present at the
official Summit. In brief, we were used as room to
manoeuvre!

Charles Sainte-Marie probably doesn’t have any idea,
neither the organizers of CAP-Jeunesse, but this
meeting in itself proved that they were only full of
empty words and that they don’t believe in direct
democracy and being a part of the struggle. One can’t
be at one time in the street and at another moment
chums with collaborators! In brief, they react exactly
like the bastards of the FEUQ (the corporatist
university student federation), they only reflect a
bit, a bit more radical, but from the same
authoritarian and antidemocratic « pattern ».
Negotiators without mandates from the rank and file. 

The same scenario was produced during the general
student strike in 1996. This strike which was launched
by the Mouvement pour le droit à l’éducation , MDE,
(Movement for the Right to Education, a radical
student union, which was then much more interesting)
and led by enraged, but disorganized youth. These
youth negotiated with the PQ at the end of the strike?
No, the FECQ and FEUQ did (FECQ is the sister
organization of FEUQ). The FECQ and the FEUQ are the
same people which had used every dirty trick possible
to end this struggle.

We can not repeat the same endless errors... It is
absolutely necessary to pull up our sleeves and fight
against nationalists and collaborators within social
movements. It is necessary to take back the organized
autonomy and politics of our mass movements. No
collaboration with collaborators! Out with the PQ!

To the anarchists : let’s organize ourselves!

Anarchists and other democratic revolutionaries have a
task to fill in their social movements : radicalize
not only the way of struggle but also political
perspectives. To do so, there is no short cut, we need
to organize the most anarchist affinity groups as
possible in our neighborhoods, within our workplaces
and in our schools. 

In many cases, the trigger to start of an
organizational process is the creation of a study
group which meets on a regular basis (which is the
case for Main Noire and Émile-Henry). Once a group is
formed, is a child’s game to start to intervene in the
social struggle (if the members of the group are at
least slightly militant, this happens almost
naturally!). The anarchist groups 
Émile-Henry (Quebec City) and Main Noire (Montreal)
believe in organization and have at their disposition
for whoever asks for it, a study guide on capitalism
and another on anarchist organization (advise to those
interested). 

Comrades, form affinity groups!

Nicolas Phébus
Quebec, Saturday, February 26, 2000

(translated by Dee)

* in French for Quebec city only this particular part
of the city has a special historical meaning.

** in French for Quebec city only this other
particular part of the city has also a special
historical meaning

_



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