Again in the spring! | news

Literary reviewer for several years for another publication, besides this, I read many, many, even Quebec novels. It may take time, however, but I’m still amazed at the references to the spring of 2012 in the imagination of young novelists.

For those who are under 30, or for authors who gravitate towards education, the date has become truly significant. The maple spring is either in the center of their story, or on the periphery, or is limited to an allusion, but it exists. No other event of the last … decades has the right to be treated like this by them!

This does not mean that there is unanimity on how to talk about it. According to the novels, he goes from being enthusiastic to being frustrated; from political awakening to travel springs; from a case of solidarity to disappointed love, even for one night. But this movement obviously marked a whole generation.

I think we should deeply rejoice in this. It always annoys me when maple spring is reduced to moments of violence between police and demonstrators, as if they were just blunders.

On the contrary, it started with consistency and good humor, which surprised everyone except the student environment: elected officials, journalists, trade unions, observers of all stripes did not see the resounding success of the March 22, 2012 demonstration. Over 100,000 people marching through the streets of Montreal, it was unexpected!

True, in the spring of 2012 the weather was so good, and this from the very first day of the season, that it was as if the weather itself invited the students to spontaneously go outside. Nevertheless, before our very eyes, student associations spent months preparing their response to the tuition hike announced a year earlier by the Liberal government of Jean Charest.

In the fall of 2011, student strikes and demonstrations took place in various cities in Quebec – but nothing more normal in the life cycle of a CEGEP student, right? Therefore, the media did not follow the ongoing actions: who is interested in young people reduced to universal individualism?

Even the indefinite general strike mandates that multiplied in CEGEP and universities in March 2012 did not make headlines when departments such as those of medicine in Montreal and Laval, not normally associated with such protests, joined the movement.

Thus, the big pacifist rally on March 22, 2012 came as a surprise, and the persistence of the movement even more so. Moreover, the large steps were tied to a solid dose of originality: the red square as an emblem, open courtyards, a dance in the subway…

The violence, the anger, the disappointments that followed will not erase anything from those early days. Ten years later, all sorts of traces remain.

In politics since 2012, Option nationale, Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire have welcomed activists directly from the Maple Spring movement. Three student leaders, Martine Desjardins, Leo Bureau-Bluin and Gabriel Naude-Dubois, were there – the latter was still there, and at the head of the QS parliamentary council – but so did a few anonymous people.

The emergence of new faces in municipal politics, it seems to me, is also connected with the spring of 2012, when the nobility returned to caring for the common good, even at the district level. Community organizations and unions also benefited from the collective awareness of young people who sought to fulfill their desire to participate in other ways.

And we’ve already linked the youth environmental demonstrations – in particular the spectacular one that took place in Montreal in September 2019 – to the inspiration that was in the spring of 2012.

Mobilization certainly has its setbacks – and there has been no shortage of maple spring, as several reports testify these days. Victory is never total, even at a rendezvous.

But in our time when dictatorship and democracy are rudely opposed, the great lesson of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we can see to what extent the ability to demonstrate for the common good is an important democratic tool. This allows governments to be heard, sometimes to counter ineffective measures or to achieve some progress.

Moreover, when a demonstration has such a profound and lasting impact on the lives of many participants as did the 2012 movement, it has a huge impact, both individually and collectively. This largely replaces the bad memory of the Prime Minister’s irony and beatings with truncheons.

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