Personally I don't believe the intention behind the law was to "calm" the situation. Globally and nationally the economic situation continues to look worse. By suspending classes, all they have done is given the rest of the students nothing else to do but join those on strike. This law is now provoking unions and teachers into joining. One has to wonder after the outrage of the G20 secret law, exactly why any politician would believe this law would get public support, especially in Quebec of all places.
For many people in Canada, Charest's law represents something far worse than broken windows or lost business or even personal injury. People volunteer to fight and die to protect what we have today. Plenty of people in the past have died and suffered protecting what we have here today. The idea that there might be some economic losses is no comparison to losing that which citizens we should be honoring by honoring that freedom died to protect.
Look at the riots in Greece, Spain, Italy, etc. Is it worth it? Sure on paper they are figuring out there monetary problems while their assets burn in constant riots. By the time any solution is made what will be left? In the riots in London I watched many ancient historical buildings go up in flames. These places are all rioting because their governments are not willing to be cooperative to their economic demands, and they've simply had enough.
I see a lot of people asking what Charest can do to quell the situation. I'll make it simple, he can't. Quebec (as are all provinces) is a middle-man between the monetary policy driving events and the distribution of the left overs to needed services. That is really all they can do. There is really only 2 ways a provincial government can get required funds: increase revenue or borrow at compound interest. Increasing revenue is what is currently being proposed. Borrowing would simply put them further in debt. All provinces are stuck in this situation, it's not just Quebec, cities too. It is federal monetary policy which provides the means to distribute the national currency.
From my point-of-view this cannot be truly resolved for all parties until the right questions start being asked. The question isn't why are tuitions going up? The question to ask is, why are we paying private banks all of the interest on our national, provincial, and municiple debts to a tune of $160,000,000 / day nationally combined. The solution seems to be one no one wants to talk about, borrowing money directly from the Bank of Canada. This way all interest on our debt is repaid to the government instead of private corporations.
The danger of ideas is that they must be interpreted by others. When told that Quebec has the lowest tuition in the country some will probably say "Well they should be paying what I pay", and others "Why aren't we paying what they pay?". Media largely has supported the former view I believe in hopes students nationwide see the Quebec students as whiners instead of workers, while a danger exists that instead students might begin getting more angry and vocal in other areas about how they are already being ripped off. It's probably likely that many students in Alberta or Saskatchewan had no idea up until now that Quebec's tuitions were the lowest.
This could very well be the beginning of more strikes depending how the situation turns out. Quebec has now attracted international attention, all eyes are on Quebec. If Charest continues on his hard-line law-and-order course he may very well start sustained protests in other cities who are insulted at the violation of rights. These protestors then begin talking, start getting angry about their own issues, and the cause expands and spreads as you have just witnessed in the case of Quebec. Journalists are now slowly catching on that the tuition is just one of many issues and that the people are angry, very angry. Originally they couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about.
On the flip side, if Charest backtracks from his current course, he risks alienating his supporters. It's very risky politically as he really has no hope in pleasing the students without angering others, he has no way out of the debt situation. He could be left with no support if he flip-flops on his stance. If he does flip-flop he will also be setting an example for all of the eyes watching that the students won. Student unions across the nation if they're smart would begin launching similar campaigns with precedent set.
In either case, this isn't going away. Canada has finally found it's "cause" I believe. Occupy while started by Canadians wasn't really Canada's cause, it was Americans who mostly identified with Occupy. That's why it still thrives there and is all but non-existent here. Canada has it's own issues, our own flashpoints, and I think we just found it. It's not really the cause that matters, it's the unity around the cause, the solidarity. The problems are all symptoms of the real problem. Canada must address it's monetary policy before we can address issues reliant on monetary policy and before it's too late. The U.S. and Europe are examples of where these policies can take you. From police-state lite, to a side-helping of police state, to full out police state, to technocrat, and eventually as we'll probably discover complete economic dictatorship when the global deleveraging finally takes hold.
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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading.