Category Archives: Youth

Montreal march: A celebration that demands more!

by Barry Weisleder
About two thousand people braved persistent rainfall and cool temperatures on September 22 to celebrate the recent partial victory of the Quebec students’ movement. They rallied at Parc Lafontaine and marched through the streets of downtown Montreal, flanked by riot police armed with shields, truncheons and rifles. The cops arrested two people for ‘launching projectiles’, and used pepper spray on some demonstrators.
Speakers at the opening rally, organized by the largest students’ federation, CLASSE, emphasized that the struggle for free post-secondary education continues. This was in the wake of the Parti Quebecois minority government decision to annul the five-year 75 per cent fee hike imposed by the Jean Charest Liberal Party regime defeated in the September 4 provincial election. Premier-elect Pauline Marois said her government would substitute inflation-indexed fee increases – counter to the demand to eliminate fees.
The PQ voted in Cabinet to rescind Law 12, with its heavy fines for demonstrations without police permission, for picketing near colleges and universities, and its threats to decertify students’ unions that fail to comply.
Sadly, two student federations did not endorse the September 22 demonstration. Union banners were scarce too. But Professors Against the Hikes, along with several civil rights, feminist, environmentalist and political organizations were highly visible. They were joined by a troupe of drummers who enlivened the somewhat soggy procession.
Seven members of Toronto Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste travelled to Montreal to participate in the action. They distributed hundreds of leaflets in French urging a continuation of the campaign for free education. Socialists also demand that charges be dropped against the over 3,000 people arrested in the Spring and Summer student protests. The LAS stresses the need to mobilize against the bosses’ agenda at all levels. This was clearly expressed on its bright yellow banner bearing the slogan “A bas l’austerite capitaliste. Pouvoir aux travailleurs / travailleuses !” (Down with capitalist austerity. Power to the workers!)
The LAS held a public forum, conducted mostly in French, on the Saturday evening. A number of Quebecois activists attended and signed up to learn more about the Pan-Canadian revolutionary organization.
The PQ moved quickly in its first days in office to announce the closure of Quebec’s only nuclear power facility, to end shale gas development, to cancel a loan to reopen the province’s last asbestos mine, and to remove a health care premium. But the PQ budget, expected in early 2013, will show how the bourgeois nationalist government actually chooses to relate to the interests of students and workers. Pundits predict major cuts to social expenditures, and more subsidies to business. Thus the struggle for a just, equal, democratic and sovereign Quebec continues.

YSA Reading and Discussion Events


Reading & Discussion of

Vladimir Lenin’s

Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder

7 pm // October 11, Thursday
OISE, ROOM 2-212 (252 Bloor St W at the St. George Subway Station)

The text is online here:


Leon Trotsky’s

Fascism: What It Is and How to Fight It

7 pm // October 18, Thursday
OISE, ROOM 2-212 (252 Bloor St W at the St. George Subway Station)

The text is online here:

  • Participants are encouraged to read the texts prior to the session.
  • Contact us if you want to participate in this very important educational event:


Reading and Discussion of Lenin’s – “WHAT IS TO BE DONE?”

Reading & Discussion of 
Lenin’s  – “WHAT IS TO BE DONE?” 
7 pm // October 4, Thursday
OISE, ROOM 2-212 (252 Bloor St W at the St. George Subway Station)
  • Join the Youth for Socialist Action in a reading and discussion of the very famous political booklet, “What is to be Done?”, by Vladimir Lenin.
  • Participants are encouraged to read the text prior to the session.
  • You can access the text online here:
  • Contact us if you want to participate in this very important educational event:

RSVP and Detailed Info: 416-535-8779

Zellers workers on Target for their rights

by Evan Engering (member of the YSA and UFCW)
Scores of labour activists converged on a quiet business park in Mississauga (west of Toronto) on August 22 to deliver a message to Target Stores CEO Gregg Steinhafel. The American retail giant recently bought out more than 100 former Zellers stores in a takeover deal leaving at least 12,000 jobless.
The Stephen Harper Conservative federal government approved the takeover this year without ensuring that any of those workers would keep their jobs, much less retain their hard-earned benefits and seniority.
“What they’re saying to you is this is going to be the fate of all workers in this country and this province in the years to come” said Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan, “This is what we can expect, unless of course, the Labour movement gets it’s act together.”
Ryan’s dire warning could not be more pertinent. This predatory takeover, just like the flight of a Caterpillar diesel engine plant from London, Ontario to union-busting Indiana earlier this year, is a reminder of the increasingly precarious nature of work in the capitalist system.
The United Food and Commercial Workers union is challenging the dismissal of the few unionized workers in this sector, trying to invoke ‘successor rights’ as Target takes control of the Zellers chain. But employers’ more frequent use of strike-breaking legislation and other anti-union laws are making the legal system less and less a recourse for pursuing any justice for workers.
Militant talk must be matched by more militant action, including mass pickets that shut down anti-worker enterprises. Only then will workers realize their power.

Quebec’s repressive response to student protests

by Eric Kupka

As reported here previously, the Liberal provincial government of Quebec is imposing a sharp rise in university and college tuition over the next seven years. This sparked massive demonstrations by students and their supporters throughout the spring and summer, some of which have attracted over 300,000 protesters.

However, Quebec Premier Jean Charest remained unmoved during the protests, and ultimately responded by having the National Assembly pass Bill 78, now Law 12, known in the sanitized language of the legislation as “An act to enable students to receive instruction from the post-secondary institutions they attend.”

Despite its name, the law is much more about silencing and repressing protesters than enabling students to attend class. It prohibits any gatherings in school buildings and on school grounds, and within 50 meters of the outer limits of school grounds, which “could result” in denying students access to classes. It also requires all organizers of demonstrations involving 10 or more people to give advance notice to local police of the demonstration’s date, time, venue, route and duration, and allows the police to unilaterally order a change in venue and route. A violation of these provisions could result in a $1,000 to $35,000 fine for individuals, or a $25,000 to $125,000 fine for organizations.

Bill 78 has been criticized by the Quebec Bar Association and the Canadian Association of University Teachers, among others. A law professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal called it the “worst law” that she has seen since the invocation of the War Measures Act in 1970, which brought Canadian troops onto the streets of Montreal.

Student associations brought a legal challenge against Bill 78, on the basis that it infringes on constitutionally-protected rights such as freedom of expression. An early attempt at an interim injunction against implementing the law failed, although the case remains before the courts.

Quebec has long been admired for its so-called ‘social-democratic’ character – unique in North America and exemplified by its low post-secondary tuition rates. With the Liberals now attempting to shift the province closer to the continent’s neo-liberal mainstream through its tuition hike plan, outsiders have been inspired to see the Quebecois rise en masse to defend their progressive gains — conquests of the nationalist movement in the 1960s.

Socialists stand with the students and workers of Quebec and demand an immediate repeal of Law 12, and cancellation of the planned tuition hikes. We back the call of the leftist Québec Solidaire party to eliminate all university and college tuition fees.