Some 100,000 protesters marched through Quebec in Canada on Wednesday of last week to mark the six month anniversary of the student strike movement against tuition fee rises there.
The march was part of a one day strike by many Quebec colleges in defiance of the province’s “Special Law” ordering them back to session and cracking down on protest. It involved students, lecturers and their supporters.
The demonstration was officially called by an alliance of 120 community organisations dubbed the “coalition against user fees in public services”.
Quebec student unions such as Classe helped organise the protest but on an unofficial basis to avoid running afoul of the Special Law.
The march was a celebration of the movement’s acheivements so far, but also a tactical retreat in the face of the Special Law's repression.
The law threatens massive fines on student unions. Consequently a series of votes at general assemblies in Quebec universities and colleges to renew the strike mandate has met with mixed results, and most likely a return to class.
The next step for the movement will be another mass demonstration on 4 October, a month on from elections in Quebec scheduled for 4 September.
Whatever the outcome of the election, Quebec’s “printemps érable”—or “maple spring”—has shattered the austerity consensus and produced a new generation of students schooled in militant and radical politics.