Some political savants participating in the Canadian Federation of Students’ Day of Action decided it would be a good idea to wheel a guillotine into a crowd and stage a mock execution as a way to protest tuition fees.
The demonstration—which can only be described as one of the most sensible and appropriate of its kind—was captured in a video shot by the ‘fax, a news channel run by the journalism students at University of King’s College. The clip shows members of a political street theatre troupe setting up a guillotine emblazoned with the sign, “The Cuts We’d Like To See.” One fellow proceeds to chant, “NDP, Liberal, Tory—same damn story,” while his comrades bang drums and cheer. He then flops a dummy on the guillotine—a dummy, which, I’m assuming, is supposed to be representative of some political figure—and leads the crowd in a few rounds of “They all must go! They all must go!” Yes, you’re watching a protest taking place in Canada.
The blade drops, unfortunately proving itself faulty as it fails to sever the head of its fee-happy victim. No fear—an executioner swoops in to manually break the neck and drop the head in the basket. And the crowd erupts in whoops and cheers. Beautiful, isn’t it?
The crowd assembled February 2 to protest, among other things, the rising cost of tuition and the expiration of a fee freeze on March 31. According to reports, more than one thousand students gathered from various Halifax universities to demonstrate against the rising cost of post-secondary education in Nova Scotia. The issue, of course, I can understand. How a medieval decapitation device works into the equation—well, there I’m having a bit more trouble.
For politicians to truly understand the financial pressures faced by students, there’s going to have to be some sort of dialogue. That dialogue is made immeasurably more difficult if students choose to stage these politicians’ preemptive deaths. And then, of course, there’s that nagging issue of the gross barbarity of the scene. These are not things we do in Canada. (Sorry, am I ‘Othering’?)
If students want political leaders to take them seriously, they need to start behaving seriously. That means no more mock executions, postcard bombardments, or other high style/low substance demonstrations. I hope not to see a public stoning, symbolic of corporate “blows” to education, at the next Student Day of Action.