Quebec Student strike: more fluent in French than English?

Posted on juin 16, 2012

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Ever since the beginning of the student strike in Quebec, I am under the impression that this strike is more popular among French-Quebecers and less among English Quebecers. It seems that the strike has became a symbol of assertiveness for French-speaking Quebecers.

Media coverage on the strike

When I follow French-speaking media like Radio-Canada, I have the feeling that the entire Province of Quebec is in favor of the student strike. English-speaking media are more or less objective but when I read comments from Internet users, it seems that some English-speaking people have a hard time hiding their disregard for the strikers, who are mostly French-speaking.

For some English language media from the rest of Canada, students from Quebec are spoiled and naive. For example, in an article from English-Canadian newspaper The Globe And Mail, Quebec students are enjoined to look to students in Chile for a little perspective. This Toronto-based newspaper considers that demands from Chilean students are more justified than those of Quebec students, who already benefit from reasonably priced tuition fees.

Administration of Universities and pre-universities

Even though students from Guy Concordia (an English-speaking University) have massively voted  in favour of the strike, the management of Guy Concordia (as well as that of McGill College) have planned sanctions against students present at pickets on campus. These two English-speaking Universities have a very different attitude from French-speaking institutions.

In contrast, even many teachers from French-speaking Universities have openly encouraged striking students (see the the website Les profs contre la hausse). Moreover, the most committed students come from institutions who are predominantly French-speaking such as UQAM (l’Université du Québec à Montréal) and UDEM (l’Université de Montréal).

Fight against the increase of tuition fee or American capitalism?

It’s evident that English-speaking Quebecers do not share the same interest that French-speaking have for this student strike.

I had already noticed that Anglo-saxons are usually more interested in business and profitability, which could explain why they seem less concerned than Francophones.

I have also noticed that French Quebecers are seeking ways to assert their identity because they are tired of being smothered by the English-speaking Canada and its cousin, the Almighty America.  I don’t think this strike is only about the increase of tuition fees, I believe it’s also against North-American capitalism and its extravagant festivities (for example the Formula 1 and all the summer festivals in Montreal).

Just like everybody else, I am looking forward to the end of this conflict. I am not a capitalist, a socialist nor anything else that ends with -ist. I am simply triste (sad). A triste and bilingual student.