The numerous arrests during the festivities associated with the Grand Prix in Montreal launch a new stage in the police repression of the Quebec student strike, which has lasted for more than 120 days (as of the writing of this article). For the four days of these festivities, more than 130 people were arrested. More important than the number of arrested was the way in which these arrests were carried out.

In what has become a May-long-weekend tradition, about 50 Marxist supporters travelled to Toronto for the 12th national conference of the Canadian Marxists of Fightback and La Riposte.  As in previous years, the Marxists met to discuss the world situation and how to best intervene in the increasing number of movements against capitalism; but, what made this conference different from that of years past was the fact that it was being held at the same time as the largest mass movement in Canadian history.

The Quebec student movement has provided a beacon of hope for working people and youth across the world. The attempt by the Charest government to nearly double tuition fees in the province has sparked massive resistance. After some 16-weeks of student strikes and mass demonstrations, the government is shaking. This experience displays that mass mobilization, not lobbying, is the most effective method of fighting for accessible and free education.

Tuesday, May 22nd saw the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Between 250,000 and 350,000 youth and workers came out onto the streets of Montreal and openly defied the emergency law that requires police approval of protest routes eight hours in advance. A widely publicized “official route” was broken; the crowd turned away, following an unannounced path.

Over the past two weeks, the student strike in Quebec has entered a new stage. What originally began as a strike against a 75% increase in tuition fees has rapidly progressed into a movement against the Liberal government itself. Premier Jean Charest’s government has clumsily fallen over itself, trying to suppress or divide the movement, with little success. Instead of killing the movement, every action by the government has only given the movement new life.

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