It begins every night around 8:00, people take to their balconies, banging pots and pans. As the sound fills the air, the call is answered in the streets below and doors fly open; demonstrators who behave more like revelers bang away on cookware, pouring over the sidewalks into the avenue, on the march.
Welcome to civil disobedience, a la’ Quebecois; the Saucepan Revolution, the Casserole Symphony.
What started out in February as a student protest over a 75% tuition increase, has more recently become a populist movement that spans generations and social status, due to the implementation of Bill 78.
Bill 78 was conceived as a result of the escalating tensions between student demonstrators and police. The authorities pointing to violent confrontations with protestors as proof of the necessity of the bill, and demonstrators wondering if the violence hasn’t been initiated by agents provocateurs in the Quebec police force, a tactic they’ve been known to employ.
What Bill 78 is designed to do is crush any meaningful protest by the student protestors. It raised alarm in the general population, with the severity of its measures. Here are some of the provisions of Bill 78 (emphasis mine):
Bill 78 declares illegal any picket or “form of gathering” by strike supporters within 50 meters of the “outer limits” of the “grounds” of any educational building. The bill requires student associations, unions representing teachers, and college or university employees to “employ appropriate means to induce” their members to comply with its provisions, or face prosecution.
Article 9 of the bill states that the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports is granted the right to modify any Act of law to provide for any dispositions deemed necessary to enforce continuation of sessions throughout the duration covered by the bill.
Article 16 of the bill furthermore declares illegal for demonstrations of more than 50 people, at any location in Quebec, unless the dates, times, starting point, and routes of those locations and also the duration of the venue and the means of transportation that will be used by participants, if applicable, have been submitted to and approved by Quebec police. It is then possible, at the police authority’s discretion, to modify the location and date of the protest if it judges that the protest would pose a serious threat to the order and security of the public.
According to the provisions of the bill, any infraction against its prohibitions require offenders to pay fines, which are paid for each day of infraction. Those fines amount to $1,000-$5,000 for individuals, $7,000-$35,000 for student or union leaders, and $25,000-$125,000 per day for student or labor organizations.Fines are doubled for second and subsequent offenses. Universities or institutions which do not comply with the provisions of Bill 78 are subject to the daily fees paid by student or labor organizations.
A separate Montreal law makes wearing masks, scarves or bandanas illegal during demonstrations.
The measures of the bill sent shock-waves through the province. Although ostensibly designed to quiet the student population, the bill has the ability to make any peaceful demonstration or gathering of 50 or more people, an illegal assembly, subject to arrest and large fines. Students and unions have joined forces to mount challenges through the justice system and in the streets.
The media still refers to the nightly gatherings as ‘student demonstrations, but as these videos reveal, this is now a people’s movement.
Watch videos here:
The picture below shows a protest flag attached to an abandoned construction site. In English it reads, “When injustice becomes law, resistance is a duty!” The building itself is indicative of the students rightful outrage over tuition increases. A $510,000,00 University of Quebec boondoggle that is a monument to graft, waste and greed. The university has announced plans to cover it with a $60,000 tarp painted to look like a building wall.