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Been banging a pot for half an hour at Jarry and Saint-Denis.
Lots of people are out. In a way it’s too bad it’s taken this crisis to get people out, moving around, making a joyful noise, dancing with their neighbours.
Tonight people were being less scrupulous about keeping the demo mostly on the sidewalk and crossing mostly at the lights. By the time I wandered away the crowd had pretty much occupied the intersection and police were redirecting traffic away from it. As I left, people were beginning to process southward again as they did last night.
As had been promised, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois turned up. I have no idea whether he planned to make a speech but nobody had brought any sound equipment so I doubt he’ll manage to get the crowd to pipe down so he can be heard. Several media outfits were following him, CTV and Radio-Canada interviewing him (nattily dressed but with a spoon and pan in his hands) against the background din.
But this was the thing.
People knew who he was. I saw an old lady hug him, with tears in her eyes. I saw men and women coming up to shake his hand. I saw a little kid speak to him. He wasn’t glad-handing, though. He was just there talking to people who came up to him.
He’s also a little guy, but being a short guy has never been an obstacle to political success in Quebec. René Lévesque and Pierre Trudeau were neither of them tall men.
Not saying GND will necessarily use this whole thing as a springboard to political life – he’s very young – but weirder things have happened.
It also crossed my mind as I walked home that it’s typical that people are talking about GND and Léo Bureau-Blouin in admiring tones, but neither Martine Desjardins nor Jeanne Reynolds have received anything like the same adulation nor are their names becoming household words – and yet Reynolds just got the Lieutenant-General’s medal for being topp at skool, at a time when she’s also helping direct a major organization through a tricky strike. Maybe we just have an archetypal thing about the strong male leader, as a culture, or even as a species.
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Mayor Tremblay wants us to keep our casseroles on our balconies and not bring them down into the street.
Marie-Claude Lortie ponders the casserole phenomenon and how it’s drawing people away from their solitary corners to socialize with neighbours on the street in a way nothing has done in years.
The current student unrest has produced more arrests than the October Crisis of 1970.
La Presse has a very brief item tagged 18h18 saying Schwartz’s is burning and the Main is closed.
Tweets are saying it’s a minor fire and doesn’t pose a serious threat to the institution.
The young man who was hit by someone driving a white Mercedes who then fled the scene during Tuesday evening’s demo has spoken to the media: he has broken bones and bruises but will recover.
Voir has a sizable photo gallery of the big Tuesday demo, with pictures of placards and people.
My second Salon link this week, how odd. Dissent, à la Québécoise is written by Salon’s Occupy expert.
The rough music of thousands of cooking pots and metal bowls rose at sundown Wednesday evening. Later, 518 people were arrested and some were still waiting to be processed as the sun came up Thursday morning. Another couple of hundred were arrested in Quebec City.
Most accounts say the demonstration was peaceful but technically illegal according to Bill 78, so police simply rounded up a group of participants and arrested them.
Police want another law forbidding cursing at police, saying this will stop the escalation of violence during demonstrations. Here’s an idea: teach the police not to get so easily riled up? Even so, it wouldn’t hurt for demonstrators to keep in mind that our riot police are tired – taunting them is not the smartest move at the end of the night.
The U.S. leftish paper The Nation has a report on the Quebec situation that gives Jaggi Singh the last word.
Sixty boffins from Quebec universities say Hydro-Quebec’s new smart meters are fine and don’t pose any health hazards, and blame lingering concerns on popular misunderstanding of scientific literature.
A major condo development in Ahuntsic has residents upset – but this kind of urban densification is exactly what’s proposed in the PMAD. 2000 new residents living here would be 2000 people who haven’t gone to live in the sprawl.
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The 30th evening demo has seen 400 arrests in a mass kettle at Sherbrooke and Saint-Denis. La Presse says 3000 people were demonstrating peacefully until the 400 people were trapped by police on the grounds the demo was illegal under Bill 78.
In an New York Times op-ed written by two UdeM profs, Bill 78 is called “a draconian law [...] an attack on Quebecers’ freedom of speech, association and assembly.” “Americans traveling to Quebec this summer should know they are entering a province that rides roughshod over its citizens’ fundamental freedoms.”
Rough casserole music was heard in Rosemont as well as in Villeray and elsewhere.
In all of this, it crosses my mind to wonder what Jean Charest is using all this to direct our attention away from. The Charbonneau commission? The Plan Nord?
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