Last week, some of the key organizers from this spring’s Quebec student protests took a speaking tour of Ontario universities to try and drum up support for a similar student strike here next semester. Their message hinged on how the Quebec movement has been successful thanks to its broad appeal, with people of all political stripes coming on board—one night this March, over 300,000 people attended a single protest.
The Ryerson University tour stop last Thursday drew about 130 to 150 people, but the atmosphere was less big tent—Vanessa Junior, a recent University of Western Ontario grad, summed up the political tone succinctly: “We’re talking about ideological warfare here.”
In the hallway outside the Ryerson Student Centre, activists distributed newspapers including Socialist Action and Fightback: The Marxist Voice of Labour and Youth. The event kicked off with Ryerson Students’ Union VP of education, Melissa Palermo, noting that the crowd was gathered on land stolen from Canada’s native population. Then came the introduction of several student leaders from Quebec. (Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the well-known spokesperson for the most militant Quebec student group, La CLASSE, was not in attendance, though another representative was.)
Talking points included: How to deal with pushback from school administration, how to gauge what the student body is prepared to sacrifice, and how to release a plague of locusts (referring to an infestation of insects at a Montreal business school in April, perpetrated by activists). Few commitments were made as to
a course of action for the fall.
Nadeau-Dubois’ absence was noted, but he didn’t seem to be missed. “It would be very nice to meet him, and I’m sure he has a lot of good advice,” said Noah Gataveckas, a Fightback writer. “But he’s not the only one making things happen.”