Is State-Sanctioned Violence a Laughing Matter?

Friday, April 20, 2012


I just came back from the Montreal Convention Centre, and I am shocked. I’ve got a couple of protest marches under my belt, but never have I witnessed anything such.

I’m not the kind of protester “looking for a fight,” I’m not one you’ll see on the front line. Only this time, there was no front line. I was standing there quietly, with a small number of people, not too far from a group of CSN teachers. I didn’t see anything coming, the riot control cops, stormed us from all sides, before rushing into the Convention Centre. A bystander, a man in his fifties — not even a protester — got a leg broken from being hit with a nightstick just beside me! I wondered how I could help him, along with some others when a tear gas canister was fired right next to us: unable to breathe or to see, I panicked. A little further, a colleague of mine noticed me and — a scarf covering his mouth and nose — came to help me out of there.

Those were the first five minutes. I can’t even begin to tell you what I saw during the fifteen minutes it took me to try and get away from there. This had NOTHING to do with what you read on cyberpresse right now. And the other days weren’t exactly idyllic either: yesterday, a workmate protesting alongside students got a rib broken.

As I’m writing these lines, I can hear Charest laughing on the radio. And now he’s saying “That’s enough! Protesters must respect other people’s right to circulate freely!”. I’m not an impulsive teenager, but if I had a brick at hand right now, I’d throw it right in his face!

Charest is setting things ablaze. I heard protesters chant “Duplessis! Help us! Come free us from Charest!” Help us indeed!

No matter what your position about the tuition hike is, we must unite and condemn the totalitarian drift of this irresponsible government.


Diane Gendron

Professor of Philosophy

Collège de Maisonneuve