A note to violent student protesters - Macleans.ca

A note to violent student protesters

You’re as brave as your average internet commenter


Paul Chiasson/CP Images

Dear Red Square Types,

I’m writing this a few hours after you wreaked havoc on Palais des Congrès where your nemesis Jean Charest was giving a talk about the Plan Nord. Congrats on busting open that fire hydrant; lord only knows that the streets around there needed a good soaking anyways. Also, nothing shows originality and righteousness like smashing windows. By destroying so much property, you’ve officially put yourself into esteemed company: you now have that much more in common with those bands of addled mooks who destroy St Catherine Street after a monumental win or loss by the Habs at the Bell Centre. And, like those brave souls who break windows and clash with police, many of you did as much from behind a mask. If only you’d steal a few dozen pairs of tennis shoes we really wouldn’t be able to tell you apart. Again, congrats. You’re as brave as your average internet commenter.

But here’s where you really deserve credit: in at once being so violent and cowardly, you have become a gift to the re-election campaign of Jean Charest. Sure, pinning him in Palais des Congrès this morning was a boffo move, image-wise. But what you seemed to have missed over the last two months of your strike is how, every time you smash a window, or disrupt bridge traffic, or vandalize a school or three, or wreck ministerial offices, or visit those ministers’ privates homes, the Liberal government only entrenches further in its position. Why, you ask? Because the government knows that it has public sentiment on its side. Poll after poll after (updated: I originally linked to the wrong story) poll has demonstrated as much: over 60 per cent of Quebecers support the government when it comes to tuition hikes. Again, congrats: thanks to displays like today’s saccage de centre ville you’ve given the terminally unpopular Charest government a taste of its best poll numbers since… well, forever.

In short, by virtue of being a violent, wholly arrestable mass of delinquency and self-indulgence, you’ve cheapened the plight of your own movement. When your collective back is broken—and it will be, not to worry—tuitions will inevitably go up and Jean Charest will get credit for staring you down, right as he goes into election mode. You’ve lionized your own nemesis, helping him get re-elected. Again, congrats.


A note to violent student protesters

  1. Even though  the majority of the protestors may or may not be involved with the hooliganism, it is increasingly obvious that protest organizers and activists are going to have to develop techniques to control their own crowd.   The public just simply isn’t as willing to forgive property damage, violence and intimidation anymore, no matter how just your cause may or may not be.

    A protest is supposed to be a way of bringing a message to the public and to garner support for that message.  Events such as those described in the article do nothing to promote the message or to garner support for it.

    • It’s not even their own crowd. There are a few destructive/anarcho groups that like to use any popular protest as cover to get their jollies on. It’s bloody annoying, and I encourage any peaceful members of a protest to, as soon as you see somebody putting on a mask, start filming and following them until they drop the mask.  

      Most of these little pricks don’t have the courage of their convictions to actually stand up to the law, so as soon as it becomes obvious that they’re not going to get away with their crimes, they suddenly lose all interest in their “civil disobedience”

      But don’t do it on your own, make sure you’ve got a couple of like-minded folks with you to keep them from getting violent on you personally.

      Edit: Hell, personally, these people make me wonder why tasers are illegal firearms while actual handguns are just restricted. It’d probably calm the lot of them right down if they knew that throwing a rock could get them tasered from the protesters who don’t want violence bringing the cops down on their heads in full force.

      •  Right on.  I should clarify that I don’t think (necessarily) that the protestors mean for those type of people to show up, but like any open-invitation gathering of people, a few jerks are going to show up to start a fight.

        But I don’t think the organizers are blameless either.  There are many very large and well publicized demonstrations that are done peacefully, so obviously there are ways of controlling the crowd that don’t require the police.  I think there is some responsibility on the part of the organizers to ensure security for the wider public.

      •  Unfortunately, police tactics have made donning masks in some cases a good idea, rather than a sign someone is up to no good.

        • your an idiot.

          •  *you’re

        • I don’t think I agree. I haven’t heard about any cases of police harassing people after the fact. Unless you mean just as a response to tear-gas/pepper spray?

          •  Tear gas, new “blinding” attacks I’ve read about as well as taking people’s pictures and harassing them later after identifying them.

      • Thwim,

        It’s better that private citizens not have concealed weapons, including tasers. Let the police do it. 

        The use of even a taser could be the use of deadly force. 

        • I tend to agree, but there’s simply not enough of them.

          As for taser lethality, first, I’d suggest that this has been vastly over-hyped by  the news.. especially when a person uses one properly.

          Second, I was more commenting on how we will allow people to have guns rather than tasers.  A gun would have no use in such a situation. A taser might.

      • slaves enslave slaves

        • Hint: Destroying world/political order won’t make you any less of a slave. All it’ll do is give those who have the means and desire to oppress you a freer hand in doing so. And it certainly won’t make you any less of a pathetic pissant.. if people aren’t rallying round already to hear your screeds and listen to your rants already, they sure as hell aren’t going to once they have to really start worrying about where their next meal is coming from.

        • Sometimes CLASSE’s fifty-centers just aren’t worth their paycheck.
          Go look at BGLong’s or Frank Messier’s posts if you want to learn how to properly disseminate on-message agitprop.

  2. I wonder how many of these protesters are students.

    •  Depends upon what you mean by “student”.

      Those interested in receiving a degree of little actual value for little or no work:
      most of them.

      Those interested in learning and/or gaining skills and/or bettering themselves:
      none of them.

    • Any student who is cutting class to participate in a riot is not really a student. 

      • based on what? Why do they cease to be a student because they choose to protest?

  3. Y’all sound like my Grandma in 1969.

    •  it was a little dull and smug for actual journalsim.  Did someone maybe jostle the writer on his way down the street?

      • I read somewhere recently that as a societal group no one is more
        supportive of a status quo (whatever that may be) than the established
        media. Not sure I totally agree but I could be persuaded.

  4. How many people had to work today and pay taxes to subsidize education of narcissistic teenagers? Entitled middle class kids need a cuff around the ear and taught what’s what. 

    •  Violence directed at people and forced ideology, every extremists answer…

    • How much prosperity are those “narcissistic teenagers” going to bring to our country once they’re educated? It’s their taxes that are going to be paying to take care of you and me when we’re in our dotage.. assuming we’re not already there, of course.

      The problem is the violence, not the cause.

      • I don`t think those idiots I saw on last night`s news are going to be generating much prosperity any time soon.

        • Had you ended that sentence after the first three words, I might have praised you for some uncommon accuracy.

    • Just want to remind you that you’re pro-life.

    •  you need to understand how everything is interconnected.

  5. You might want to check your facts, even the official spokesperson for the Montreal PD said that today’s violent protesters were NOT related to the student movement.

    Then again should we expect someone from your publication to actually research a topic before writing about it? Clearly that seems to be asking too much.

    • You might want to check CLASSE’s website. The demonstration that took place at Palais des congrès was staged by the student group that represetns some 100K students across the province—and the one that has ‘disassociated’ (but as yet refused to denounce) the violence that has gone on. From bloquonslahausse.com:  “Le 20 avril, annulons le Salon Plan Nord: ‘Non à la gratuité minière! Oui à la gratuité scolaire!’

      • What does that even mean? Because they have organized this manifestation, they are responsible for the troublemakers that make their way into the crowd.

        You should think before you write a response to someone. Also before you write such a onesided article. I guess you didn’t see that policeman shoot a protester point blank in the face at that same manifestation. Or that little girl who was pinned down by 3 200+lbs policemen.

        • they both deserved it

        •  Yes, because they have organized it, they are responsible for the troublemakers.   That is what is demanded of them by the public.

          •  you might do well to speak for yourself, rather than some amorphous “public”.

          •  Very well, for myself then.

            But I will sincerely doubt that these clashes with police are doing anything to spread the protestor’s message or to garner public support.   Let’s just say I have a hunch.

          •  That’s much better.

            Usually, the people who stay at home and tut tut the unfortunate violence that sometimes attends protests weren’t contributing anything to the movement anyway, and wildly overestimate the value of their opinion as the public.

  6. here, here.

  7. When I talk to protesters – I hear genuine fustration and alarming hardening sentiments towards police and police brutality.  Protesters meet with armed police who taunt, spit, heckle, and intimidate youth, finishing all the mental abuse with physical abuse like chemical sprays, man-handling and bloodying citizens who dare to protest.  Just because the other provinces were placid and accepted $5000 (approx.) a year tuitions fees doesn’t mean that it is right or best for our communities, economies and prosperity of our nation.  We should be proud of our youth’s resolve and continued engagement in social political actions.  My children (5 and 7 years old) adore the police, mounties, firefighters but will that respect all change when in 15 years time they belittled (tone in your article) & intimidated, bloodied when in protest.  Does our youth  not have the same right to engage in democracy as all citizens of Canada?

    • Do police officers not have the right to protect themselves.  I am aware there are exceptions to the rule, but by and large, violence at these sort of gathering is initiated by protestors, not police.  I have been at several protest for various causes, where this has been the case.  Including Quebec City in April of ’01, where I saw protestors tear down a police barricade, then throw large sections into the crowd of police.  These officers had families as well, and were there doing a job, protecting the lawful citizens trying to engage in free speach and the democratic process.  Is it right that they should be belittled (tone in your comment)  intimidated, & bloodied when trying to do thier job?

    • I watched this whole demonstration through the TVA helicopter camera, with no commentary. I saw what happened. The police RESPONDED to the violence, not initiated it. 

  8. Myopic, isolated, entitled, spoiled little turds with no sense of reality… The National Socialist State of Kebec is imploding on it’s designs… someone should force these entitled isolationists to take a course in economics.

  9. You’re as brave as your average internet commenter”
    … and as bright as your average Macleans journalist.

  10. This rubbish is far from being journalism. If you want to lick Charests bum at least do it in private dont write a whole article about it.
    The violence exploded after a policeman decided to spray a pacific protester in the face for absolute no reason (but the presstitute turns a blind eye on this side of the events heyn?). This has been orchestrated all on purpose because it is the image that they wanted to portray on the main stream media since the beginning. We live in very tricky times. People need to get informed. People need to realize that they are slaves. Stop believing everything you hear and see on tv. STOP being ignorant and get informed. Do your own research and for Christ sake stop excusing governments which are whores of the globalists. 

  11. Ahh, Patriquin. Wonderful piece, as good as the tripe you served up in support of the Iraq war back in 2003.

    Love the links concerning polls show “over 60 percent” support for the government position, great demonstration of your journalistic abilities. The first link references a CROP poll showing 51%-49% in favour of the government and a Leger (internet) poll (conducted DURING the March 22 demo!) showing 53%-39% for the gov’t. The second link has a CROP poll with 61%-39% for the govt, and the third has no reference to any polls at all. That’s without mentioning Charest’s refusal to negotiate, which polls (including the ones you cited) unanimously show is unpopular.

    Good numbers for the students, considering the relentless media drumbeat against them. Wonder what poll numbers they would get if they asked people: Do you support financing free post-secondary education with a 0.8% tax on the banks, as Québec solidaire has proposed?

    As for who started the fire, the CSN certainly doesn’t think it was the students:


  12. There is a criminal element waiting in the shadows in Montreal for the chance to practice their anarchy. The Student and Public Service Unions are aware that these idiots will lead their protests but they allow it. Until they do a better job of separating themselves from this violent group unions do not deserve our respect.

    Secondly, Patriquin should do a better job of delving into some of the deep-rooted problems in Quebec, if he is serious about his angst over this violence. His main beef with the violence yesterday seems to be that it will ensure the reelection of Charest. 

    Rather than demonstrate his own political and separatist stripes Patriquin would be better to explain why the cost of daycare and higher education in Quebec has been a fraction of that in TROC, while Quebec goes further into debt and receives funding from some in TROC.

      • Both articles, and presumably yourself, argue that there is nothing wrong with one province in the Confederation subsidizing it`s services beyond reasonable points so that it would receive funding from other provinces that do not have similar subsidies.

        As a matter of fact you seem to agree that the solution to the problem should be that all the other provinces should increase government spending by providing similar subsidies as Quebec.

        Methinks someone is ready to become a dipper.

          • The clear message in all the articles is that the writers believe that the concept of paid university education until you are 35, then work for the government until you are 55, then retire with a full indexed pension is a desirable one. 
            It may be desirable but it bankrupts a nation. Ask Greece.

            Your last link even uses a comparison of government subsidies in the 70`s compared to what it is now. Jeez,  the 70`s is when this whole debt crisis we are now in began. 
            You will never understand the economic plight that most of the world is in and Quebec would be in, without the help of TROC, if all you read is the nostalgic meanderings of writers who understand only the spending portion of economics and not the pay-back part that they would impose on future generations.

      • this is an eye opener,
        thanks for the info.

  13. The students riots is
    a good representation of what Quebec stands for.

    Although it will hit
    me financially I would be very happy if Quebec would separate from Canada.

    Quebec with its
    entitlements accustomed population, its constant whining about not sufficient
    equalization payment, its corrupt politicians, its mafia controlled
    construction industry, its militant unions is an open sore of the Canadian

    The sooner they leave well the rest of the country
    will be. 

    • “corrupt politician” may well be a pleonasm now, especially in Quebec.

  14. The main issue is the stonewalling of the Liberal government. Any group, especially a crowd of protesters, who were voluntarily and arrogantly ignored for so long were bound to express their frustration in a violent form at some point; it is a predictable aspect of human nature in society. This is not the exclusivity of the youth. However, they are more energetic, candid and idealistic than older groups and this doesn’t help organizers to keep the crowd in line. ANY group who acts this way will lose support from the population at some point. Add to that the prejudices we hold over the youth and this is quite a desperate battle they are fighting. (Ironically, every generation imposes the same stereotypes to the new one.) The actual government capitalizes on it and it probably won’t be the last. I wonder who’s worst sometimes.

    Some people may point fingers at the students saying their generation is spoiled and ungrateful, but is it really the case? What do you think will happen when we will all be old and they will be the generation in power? Will they believe we are worthy of their attention and time? I say we may well deserve to be ignored politically as much as we ignored/criticised them. I understand, who wants to support these lazy punks listening to their iPod all day long…

    •  You make the ridiculous error that these lunatic students are representative of their generation.  What a laugh.  This group of hoodlums will never have power unless you hand it over, because they remain a minority in a democracy, a minority within their own age group.

      And you call this a “desperate battle”!  For $325 per year!  There’s a reason you don’t see this happening elsewhere in Canada – because it’s completely insane, and it can only come about in a society that has been bred on entitlement.  The students in the rest of Canada have always paid higher tuition, yet the students in the rest of Canada feel no need to run around like a bunch of hoodlums trashing the neighbourhood.

      • We always hit the nail that sticks out. What we see in the media is not those who share the same feelings and remain silent. It is not an error, even less a “ridiculous” one here to believe they represent this generation. They are only a part of it, yes. A part who only voice their anger in the most inefficient and stupid way.

        When I say it is a desperate battle, it is. They are wasting their time, they can’t win, especially “fighting” like this. Especially with this government.

        Comparing with the rest of Canada only is very restrictive. They are many reasons also why Quebec’s population and the rest of Canada do not behave the same way when confronted with issues, these differences can’t be summarized with prejudices here. Not seeing this elsewhere in Canada is not necessarily a sign of superiority either. I suggest you look around the world (if you haven’t already). Canada is far from being the best country in the world in terms of education quality and accessibility and Quebec is not number one in the field of education either.

        Also, those who govern our country – and provinces – ARE a minority too. Few that governs many, let’s not forget about that shall we. Sorry for the rethoric, I share your point of view. But our government could have taken their responsability instead of stonewalling. Maybe, just maybe, it would have avoided pointless vandalism and violence…

      • And get your numbers right, it is not only 325 dollars, they will add $325 per year for 5 years, for a total of $1625 in the end. They already pay $2000 per semester and tuitions were raised before for 5 years too. They may pay less than other provinces, but it is not an excuse. The cost of living augment, education is costly for tax payers and we must all compensate, students included. It just seems to me however that our government always take the easy path instead of examining how the money is used. I’ve seen disturbing things in Quebec’s hospitals: diagnostic machines bought in triple and still wrapped in plastic – just to spend their budget, union absurdities where a janitor was blamed for cleaning something he shouldn’t have and more… I believe we could find the same thing in education too. It is not only their tuition, it’s our taxes too.

  15. Just because you don’t want to pay more in tuition, it doesn’t give you the right to smash windows and injure other people.

    We would all like our children to attend cégep without paying any tuition, but that’s not how the real world operates. 

  16. The responsibility lies with the organizers. If you see a group showing up with masks then either call the police yourself or move your group to another location so these morons will be isolated and dealt with accordingly. Also, when there is a police line set up…don’t cross it, don’t start kicking windows or put up a fuss. The artice is bang on when it states you’re losing public support when either you participate or, you cheer on a group that’s causing this nonsense.
    As for those of you who are trying to say the police are initiating the violence, I say BS. There are so many cameras around that it just wouldn’t happen.
    Unfortunately your cause has been lost between Montreal and Gatineau incidents. If you want to make change then you’regoing to have to vote down the govt.

  17. Hands down, the worst thing I’ve read in the past 3 months!

  18. BREAKING: Canadian journalist thinks non-journalists are dumb.

  19. “You’re as brave as your average internet commenter.”.. I assume you include yourselves you silly fool.  

  20. you all dont deserve an education! We should make you all pay for the cost of the police, and all the damages!

  21. Blah blah your response to something you don’t understand it about as creative as, well, throwing rocks at windows. Congratulations. 

  22. Have you never heard of Agents Provocateurs?  The violent ones are the controlled opposition.  Divide and conquer.  Deflect the blame onto your own agents.  Why is it so hard to fathom this?  Many precedents.  Of course, it doesn’t help that the mainstream media does not mention even the possibility.  And now to associate the violence perpetrated by your own agents with internet commentators is absolutely disgusting.  It’s a shame that this technique would actually work on your readers.  Time to grow up and see the lies in this article.


  23. What a terrible reactionary column from one of the worst publications and possibly the worst journalist in this country. Hack. Next time right a fact based article instead of badgering the student movement which has been 99% peaceful and had the back bone to do what Ontarian’s did not do 15 years ago and are paying for today, and in fact in Ontario there is actually LESS money per student than in Quebec. http://www.themarknews.com/articles/8374-in-defence-of-the-student-protests

  24. When reading about reports of violence in Quebec protests, I am reminded of a certain labour strike not long ago where the Surete du Quebec was caught red-handed inserting their own troublemakers into the crowd with the intention of starting a violent protest, presumably so that their uniformed members would have a ‘legitimate’ excuse to crack a few heads.  Are we sure that the Surete isn’t up to it’s old tricks again?  They have a track record.

  25. The infamous Paul Rose (FLQ leader that was convicted of kidnapping and killing Federal cabinet minister Pierre Laporte in the 1960’s) spoke at one of the student gatherings last week, encouraging the students to continue to raise hell. These students are very unwise.

  26. Shown to the rest of Canada Quebec’s special status again. Do out of province students get the same fees as Quebec students?