2011 was the year of indignation and revolt. The Arab spring unnerved
autocrats, swept out dictators, destabilized regimes and drove many to
grant reforms. The images of these Arab peoples deposing their
oligarchies went around the world and set an example.
Inspired by the spontaneous occupations of public places in the Arab world, the first Indignados
appeared in Spain, when deep-going austerity measures were imposed on
The Spanish highlighted the real limits of democracy in
that country, strongly affected by the economic crisis, subject to the
dictates of the financial markets, with 46 per cent of its young people
unemployed. The initiative produced its emulators and the movement
spread in Europe and beyond.
The movement extended to North America, and from New York around the
Occupy Wall Street initiative. That movement was aimed at the richest 1
per cent, the major banks and multinational corporations, which dictate
the laws of an unjust global economy that is mortgaging the future of
all of us. The movement then spread to more than 100 U.S. cities, but
also to Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal).
It's Quebec's turn to bring down its corrupt clique!
Charest, that's enough! Let us demand the government's resignation!
If the youth are the future of a society, education is their tool for
constructing a just, sustainable and mutually supportive society.
However, in a world grappling with an economic and ecological crisis
caused by some short-sighted policies dictated by a financial oligarchy
concerned only with its short-term profit, Quebec sees its youth as
nothing more than an exploitable resource.
The search for profit at whatever cost, the corruption, and the
collusion with the world of business have become trademarks of the
Charest government. This has been going on for years.
The PPPs, Mont
Orford, Suroît, shale gas, Malartic, the Plan Nord, the secret funding
of the Liberal party, the construction industry scandal, the corruption
in the appointment of judges... are all affairs and projects testifying
to a shameless use of power, a greed for profit from the exploitation of
our collective resources by private interests. We are back to the
While the earth is silent when it is disembowelled in the rush for
the minerals so coveted by world markets, the student youth know how to
revolt and to make their voices heard. It is not the young students who
should pay Quebec's debt.
Instead of distributing millions to
multinational firms that will relocate their activities as soon as they
smell bigger profits elsewhere, the Quebec government should invest in
its youth, the sole guarantor of our common future.
A débat de société, a collective brainstorming is more
needed than ever, and the government's silence does not encourage that.
What society do we wish to live in? How do we want to share the
knowledge and resources in Quebec? What future do we want for our
children and what society are we going to pass on to them as a legacy?
The government's blinkered obstinacy in refusing to listen to its
young people has spawned a profound desire for change in Quebec.
student strike has become the catalyst of a more global social movement,
fueled by indignation at our arrogant political elites who, after close
to 10 years spent in power, have visibly lost any sense of the general
interest. We are ripe for a Quebec spring! We need a new Quiet
Revolution, to construct an innovative social agenda that looks ahead.
Accordingly, we demand:
The right to education for everyone, without discrimination linked to money.
The right to a healthy environment and the
conservation of our natural resources, to protect our water, our rivers,
our forests, our regions, and not to yield to the voracious appetite of
the mining and oil and gas companies.
The rights of the indigenous peoples to their aboriginal lands, and we are in solidarity with the Innu women of the North Shore marching toward Montréal.
The right to enjoy a responsible and democratic government,
serving its people and not some financial interests, a government that
delivers quality public services, that rejects privatizations, and that
legislates against the illegitimate increase in fees of all kinds.
The right to pacifism and international solidarity, clearly displaying Quebec's opposition to the militaristic and commercial policies of the federal Conservative government.
The right to a local, sustainable, mutually supportive social economy
that puts humans at the centre of its concerns, allows a real
development of Quebec, and puts an end to wrongful and destructive
Like the slogans echoing in the Arab streets, it is time to tell the
government 'Charest Go Home!' and to build together the Quebec of
tomorrow. We are all collectively responsible for our future. It is time
to arise and act together. We will change the world one action at a
time, and we can begin in several ways:
Let us display our colours and proudly sport the red square on our breasts, in our windows, from our balconies!
Let us share this manifesto with those around us, discuss it, spark a real débat de société.
Let us keep on repeating: Charest, that's enough! We want the Charest government to resign!
Let us raise our voices. It is time to build the Quebec of our dreams.
- Translation by Richard Fidler.