My Heart Hurts

I want to be silly and complain about my boyfriend’s annoying quirks, my teenage children and their hormonally induced sadism or my deep driving desire to live out the rest of my days, looking out over the garden from the barred and triple enforced window of a peaceful isolation cell, swaddled in a straight jacket.

I want to, but my heart hurts way too much.

For those of you who don’t live here in Montréal, I imagine you either don’t have a clue what’s going on here, or are getting a somewhat warped media-portrayed version of the turn of events in Québec.

I imagine that many of you know that there have been monstrous demonstrations going on here for the last month but aren’t entirely sure what it is we are protesting against.

Had I started this blog post a month ago, I would have told you that the demonstrations here are fuelled by the Premier’s decision to increase tuition by 75% over the next 5 years.

But since then, Charest has also proposed his Plan Nord (his controversial $80-billion 25-year plan to develop Quebec’s north)

He publicly ridiculed and insulted the demonstrators ( As the protesting students demonstrated outside Montreal’s convention centre, Premier Jean Charest joked that he knew of a suitable place for them.
“We could offer them a job … in the North, as far (north) as possible,”)

And he proposed Bill 78 – A law that stipulates that demonstrations (including their intended route and the exact duration) of more than 50 people must give advance notice to and be approved by the police.

So there are people demonstrating for a variety and combination of reasons, all with a common route and all sharing a theme of protesting the violation of the peoples basic democratic and human rights.

All of the demonstrations that I have attended were entirely peaceful on the part of the protesters. I was beaming with pride the last few nights, at the casserole protest in my current neighbourhood, and my old stomping grounds.

My heart was swollen with love and mushiness by the support of the neighbours, banging pots on their balconies, the passers by honking from their cars, the tennis players banging their rackets on the chain link, the City worker passing by, clanging a frying pan against the door of her truck…

I felt a true sense of unity, for a very human cause.

The students get a bad rap, for “complaining” about tuition hikes, despite having the lowest tuition in the country – but we also have the highest taxes in the country and horrifically mismanaged governmental funds.

And it’s not only students who are up in arms. There have been up to and over 200,000 protesters of all ages, and financial and social status marching in these protests.

The demonstrators get a bad rap here for having thrown rocks through a few bank windows, lighting garbage cans on fire and even setting off a couple of smoke bombs in the metro and throwing “projectiles” at the riot squad.

I myself am 100% against all any any violence directed at anyone. Ever. And I also don’t support the demonstrators trying to impede other students from attending classes. It’s hypocritical and unfair.

But I hold the government and it’s officials to a higher standard and proposing a police state, in a province where the police have been on a rampage of undisciplined brutality that is so absolutely horrifying it makes me want to scream and break things and run away to live in a tent in Costa Rica. Countless protesters, as well as many innocent bystanders, have been pepper-sprayed, kettled, gassed, beaten, maimed, and sexually assaulted etc… in the last month.

One of these said victims of police brutality, is currently in the trauma Centre of St-Luc Hospital, with his spinal cord severed and fractured vertebrae and is in a deep coma with little chance of survival.

There have been over 1500 arrests over the past month. Most of these arrests have been for merely demonstrating. Much of the violence has been directed at demonstrators who, with their back turned, are completely unsuspecting – including Françis Grenier, who was shot directly in the side of the face with a rubber bullet, subsequently hospitalized for several days, underwent surgery and is possibly permanently blind in one eye as a result.

Police have been caught on video, in uniform, breaking the windows of businesses and even stealing money.

It’s completely out of control but if the Government backs down, they send the message that the people need only stage mutiny to over run them.

If the demonstrators back down, they send the message that need only be aggressed into submission.

It’s a vicious circle and I don’t see an end in sight. And that makes my heart hurt.

Originally I had embedded a video montage of some of the police brutality the citizens of Quebec are suffering but it’s too vulgar and discouraging.

This one made me cry even more. It made me feel hopeful.

Jennifer June