Quebec Protest // Translating the printemps érable

Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective initiated in an attempt to balance the English media's extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English.


The claims for free public education have intersected with numerous other social struggles in Quebec, which we also choose to address in our work.


These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may have their flaws. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us via email . Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.


If you would like to volunteer and join the effort, please contact us at the above email before embarking on any translation work, in order to avoid any redundancies. We cannot accept translations that have not been cleared with us first.




For more useful English-language sources on the conflict, see:

CUTV - broadcasting live from the protests nightly

OpenFile Montreal

Rouge Squad - Tactical Translation Team

Montreal Media Coop

Resources on the Conflict's Maple Spring Coverage

Recent Tweets @TranslateErable
Posts I Like

November 16 2013         Ryoa Chung – Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department of the Université de Montréal

Original French Text:


Martha C. Nussbaum giving a speech after having received the Prince of Asutrias award in Social Sciences  at a ceremony in Oviedo, Spain, on October 26 2012. 

The american author developed the “capability approach” in the field of political philosophy, which she applied to feminism 

Since the publication of Janette Bertrand’s manifesto, which was cosigned by a number of female celebrities, the Janette movement has grown so significantly that, from here on in, those who endorse Bill 60 are are counting on a feminist substantiation of the ban of conspicuous religious religious symbols, explicitly targeting veiled Muslim women, in order to convince the citizenry of the secular charter’s legitimacy.

A deep schism within the feminist community revealed itself in the public arena with regards to political manipulation and/or the correct understanding of the feminist stakes in the context of this debate. It is certainly relevant to remind ourselves that the issue of gender equality in the context of cultural diversity is not a new topic of philosophical writing.

The great feminist philosopher Susan Moller Olkin, who passed away in 2004, authored an important and starkly titled article in the Boston Review of Books in 1999, "Is Multiculturalism Bad For Women?" In this text that preceded the wave of post-9/11 islamophobia that descended upon the West, Okin raises legitimate questions and finds fault with the liberal paradigm of multiculturalism, developed by the Canadian philosopher Will Kymlicka.

According to Okin, using multiculturalism to justify the collective rights of cultural minorities imperils the protection of women’s individual rights. As a group, they risk being submitted to cultural frameworks that would bind them to closed communities, marginalizing them in the private sphere, and women would be thus be eclipsed from the state’s vigilance and politics in the public sphere.

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October 30 2013      Isabelle Baez

Original French Text:

This text is cosigned by: Claire-Hélène Benoît-Pernot, Université de Montréal; Anne-Marie Le Saux, Collège de Maisonneuve; Martin Jalbert, Cégep Marie-Victorin; Stéphane Thellen, Cégep du Vieux-Montréal; Sylvie Béland, Collège de Valleyfield; Alain Deneault, Université de Montréal; Anne-Marie Claret, Cégep du Vieux-Montréal; Line Vaillancourt, Cégep du Vieux-Montréal; Michel Milot, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Marjolaine Goudreau, Mère en colère et solidaire [transl. note: a group of women and mothers who stand in solidarity with the students]; Anne-Marie Miller, Cégep du Vieux-Montréal; Isabelle Pontbriand, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Murielle Chapuis, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Christian Goyette, Collège Ahuntsic; Anne-Marie Voisard, Cégep Saint-Laurent; Stéphane Chalifour, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Isabelle Billaud, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Stéphan Gibeault, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Sébastien St-Onge, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Diane Pichette, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Éric Montpetit, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Pierre Robert, Collège Lionel-Groulx; Martin Godon, Cégep du Vieux Montréal; Geneviève Plourde, Mère en colère et solidaire

The second week of hearings at the Ménard Commission has just ended. At a time when the government has undertaken an operation that is a far cry from the public inquiry requested by numerous organizations, many people must live with the physical and psychological aftermath of the omnipresent police brutality during the spring of 2012. Many of them remain burdened by their legal struggle. Such is the situation of Hadi Qaderi, a Political Science teacher at Collège de Maisonneuve.

Mr.Qaderi was accused of a misdemeanour for having stood in front of the entrance to Collège Lionel-Groulx on May 15 2012. Monique Laurin, the principal of the school, had called in the Sûreté du Québec to force the college’s opening in spite of the strike mandate that had been voted upon.

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November 20 2013      Yvon Rivard 

Original French Text:

Yvon Rivard 
Born in Sainte-Thècle in 1945. Novelist, poet, essayist and screenwriter, Yvon Rivard is the author of a dozen works and of three scripts or co-scripts. Professor at the University of Vermont from 1971 through 1973, member of Liberté magazine from 1977 until 1995 and literary commentator at Radio-Canada from 1978 until 1988, he is currently professor of creative writing, and of French and Québécois literature at McGill University. His most recent book just won the 2013 Governor General’s Award. 

"You believed that to destroy what separates was to unite. But you have destroyed what separates. And you have destroyed everything. Because there is nothing without what separates." (Antonio Porchia)

At the time of the referendums on independence, I didn’t lose everything because I succeeded in not losing my friends who had voted no. I have to admit they were few and of the very silent sort who I couldn’t resent for having contributed to my loss. The project of the “charter on secularism and Quebec values” should not be an even harder ordeal for friendships, because even if I am instinctively opposed to a whole section of this charter, I understand very well those who support it, which is a sympathetic gesture from which none of my federalist enemies benefitted. It’s strange to now find myself next to some of my “old enemies” who, I am beginning to understand, could have considered me and my “old” indépendantiste friends closed minded. That would be the greatest (and perhaps the only) merit of the charter to redistribute friendships, or at least alliances, on each side of the traditional fault lines and to rekindle reflection. 

Over the past few months, I have learned two truths that I would have forgotten. The first is that I was more of an indépendantiste than a nationalist, more concerned with social justice than with affirmations of identity, maybe because I grew up in the woods, I didn’t have to measure myself against others as much as against the forest’s silence and vastness. That turned me into a courreur de bois [transl. note: a runner of the woods. a traditional independent entrepreneurial woodsman in Quebec and French colonies] who, even having become a sedentary townsman, spends his time losing himself in order to better extend his country, seeing in each human being, both man and woman, stranger or not, a more complex tree, one that saves him or her from isolation. For me, the challenge of each individual and nation is to not be flattened by the past or projected into the future, and to not be swallowed up by space while tending to a garden, a country, one which is defended much better by dialog and commerce (exchange of both goods and cultures) than by charters and borders. 

Old quarrel 

At heart, the charter bill breathes new life into the citizens’ and coureurs des bois’ old quarrel which gave birth to this “uncertain country”, where the first ones wanted to remake a New France, and the second ones dreamt of a New World. It’s no surprise that this debate inspires some to clamour for France and others for America. We have been faced with great perils every time we thought we were done with this dialectic of rooting and uprooting, old and new, out of which nothing ever comes. Too much time spent taking stock of values and repairing fences, and it’s the grande noirceur (Duplessis) [transl. note: see link for great darkness]; too much free trading with the future and the world, and it’s the grand vide (Trudeau) [transl. note: the great emptiness]. If we must be wary of what Dostoyevsky calls “the absolute rule of universal man who has never existed”, we must not forget “that the ability to uproot oneself from one’s own land in order to impartially examine oneself is the marker of a strong personality, just as the ability to look upon the stranger with the benevolence is one of the greatest and most noble gifts of nature”. That is what the Outlander does. He is half coureur de bois and half habitant, a stranger of unknown identity who saves the fossilized village of Chenal-du-Moine by opening it up to the “wide world”, and especially by helping it transition from the Old to the New Testament, from the rigidity of law to the risk of love. 

My charter friends are right, we are threatened by the uprooting of the religious aspect of our culture, but it is less by multiculturalism than by a repression both in hearth and conscience. The charter prefers defending our newly-acquired secularism, which would be at the core of our identity (which would ensure the equality of men and women, I know not how), rather than the ever-threatened language and land. 

How can we claim that this 50 year-old country is threatened by these “poor folks” who have yet to rid themselves of the religious, just as it was once threatened by the “savages” that needed to be evangelized? I am not a believer, but I do believe that no culture can spare the transcendence of which religions are so often the poor translation, especially if it has been once steeped in it; to panic at the sight of a religious symbol is itself a sign that we have yet to find a higher ground. Just as there is no identity without an otherness by which it is revealed to itself, there is no living and critical thought without that which separates and binds those who live, those dead and alive, the here and the hereafter. The second truth this debate reminded me of: if we have not been able to gain independence, it is perhaps that “our patriotism lacked the infinite” [transl. note: original French quote, notre patriotisme manquait d’infini], as Vadeboncoeur wrote in 1963, and that it is still lacking. Said otherwise: “We have not learned to entwine the roots of our suffering/with the universal pain in each diminished man” (Miron) [transl. note: original French quote, Nous n’avons pas su lier nos racines de souffrance/à la douleur universelle dans chaque homme ravalé].


Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.

*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict and other socio-political issues in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.

November 12, 2013    

Jean-François Roussel (The author is a professor in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences at the Université de Montréal. This text is addressed to the Premier of Quebec, Pauline Marois.)

"This government is not listening!", you repeated to the previous government during the crisis of tuition fees… Photo: Robert Skinner, La Presse 

Original French Text:

"A difficult debate", that’s what what Minister Drainville invited us to on the 10th of September, when he presented the guidance document entitled "Parce que nos valeurs, on y croit" ["Because we believe in our values"].

I can still picture him dismissing, quite open-handedly, the accusations of electioneering on the part of political commentators: God, we were so suspicious! The document this government was submitting was not the definitive bill, but the first milestone in a public discussion, during which it would be very important to “listen to the arguments on either side”. 

We really want to believe that. 

For the past two months, the best forces in Quebec have mobilized to analyze this project, its implications, to evaluate its judicial and institutional possibilities. Having passed over the same furrows of this murky and tired soil, the positions became entrenched, the trenches got deeper. That happens quickly when principles, passions, repulsions and fears of one another come together. Common sense tells us that religion is a subject with quite high polemical potential. 

If your government was truly convinced of the necessity to reopen a debate that has once been thoroughly carried out with the Bouchard-Taylor Commission five years ago, is it not your responsibility to make sure that it is done with the utmost openness? Do you not have the responsibility to listen to each and every argument? 

This project has become the intersection of a muddle of multiple expectations, at times incompatible. Some support the Charter in the name of the religious neutrality of the state; others in the name of the fight against religion/Islam as opponent of progress, which is quite the opposite of neutrality; others to clear the public sphere of religious symbols, which is not the reckoned effect of this project; some to counter the influence of radical preachers in certain mosques through measures that would have effects I can still not comprehend; others to combat honour killings, which will not be prevented by us telling potential victims to remove their hats; or terrorism, which we are not keeping at bay by merely penning “clear delineations” intended for people who couldn’t care less. 

So many disproportionate expectations, and often perfectly foreign to the content of this bill…But you allow all the talk, you allow all the hope. Hope, hope what you wish, but hope. The thickness with which the soon disappointed expectations is laid on will cause the wave setting off the next electoral tide. 

It would have been so easy to accept the suggestions for compromise and many other constructive opportunities that have been coming from all sides for the past two months. Such offers came from both CAQ and Québec Solidaire, the support of which would have easily helped your bill be adopted. Lucien Bouchard showed you that by even just removing one disposition that was deemed excessive by all affected institutions and by keeping all the rest, your bill would have undoubtedly been unanimously adopted in the National Assembly, a sign of a united Quebec upholding guiding values. You You half-heartedly recognized the right of its citizens to express themselves. 

The result is now apparent. The only modifications that were brought to the initial project were towards a hardening. “This government is not listening!”, you repeated to the previous government during the crisis of tuition fees…You tricked us. 

In the end, I will not play your game. You have chosen to pit us against one another. I decline the invitation. So far as they believe in what they are defending, I choose to go towards others who do not think like me. Even if it is difficult. Because it is difficult. 

Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.

*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict and other socio-political issues in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.

Original French text:

In Idées libres , Le blogue, Rémi Bourget 10 September 2013 12:43

[Follow link to original French post to sign the manifesto]

We are a collective from the fields of law, philosophy and journalism that citizens of all orientations and origins have sought to join. Among us are separatists, federalists and “agnostics” with regards to the constitutional future of Quebec.

It iw with great concern that we commit these words to denounce the Quebec Charter of Values ​​(formerly the Charter of Secularism ) project, announced by the Parti Québécois government. The main focal points of this project were announced during the last election campaign and reiterated by carefully orchestrated leaks to the media, before being officially announced by Minister Bernard Drainville. The Charter would seek to define “clear” guidelines governing requests for religious accommodation, to guarantee the neutrality of the state by banning employees from wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols, and to do no less than to restore “social peace”.

From the outset, the fact that the government calls on the few requests for accommodation as being responsible for a social crisis speaks volumes about the work done by some of the province’s most prominent media columnists. Explosive and populist headlines, sweeping and judgemental commentaries and superficial analyses have marked Quebec’s media landscape since the emergence of the public debate on religious accommodation. Using manifold shortcuts, tabloids and news channels continuously portrayed a besieged Montreal, inundated by unreasonable requests for accommodations from intransigent immigrants. Over the years, they were able to anchor a real fear for the survival of the québécois identity in many of our fellow citizens. We regrettably note that today, our government seeks to exploit this fear for votes.

We strongly condemn that a handful of anecdotal events that sparked the imagination serve as a justification for our government to remove fundamental rights of some of our most vulnerable citizens. The publication of this manifesto seeks to explain to our fellow citizens and our decision-makers the basis of our opposition.

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Today is the one year anniversary of this blog. I started it on May 19th, a Saturday morning, on my couch in my pajamas, feeling angry and disempowered by what I had been reading in the news, and seeing outside my window (and the massive disconnect between the two). I am someone who aspires to be an activist, but who rarely lives up to such goals. But watching the escalation of the conflict last spring, and particularly the way that mainstream media sources seemed to have so little regard for masses of young people having their human rights so blatantly violated, I was finally compelled into this modest form of action. I was shocked when, within 24 hours, dozens of people were joining me in the unglamorous job of translating worthwhile French sources on the conflict into English. Very quickly, this blog became an incredible group effort, something sustained by the drive and feelings of urgency of dozens of people, many of whom did not know each other, reaching out from across Montréal, Québec, Canada, and some even around the world. I am proud that I now count many of our volunteer translators among my good friends.

A lot of thoughtful words have already been written reflecting on the events of last spring and summer, and connecting them to where we are now. I won’t rehash them here except to reiterate the general themes of these missives; we did something incredible, but our system is still profoundly broken. After the last provincial election, when it seemed that the movement was going into a well-deserved period of rest, most of the local regular translators of this blog met up for a drink. We talked about the future; we did not want to squander all the energy and experience we had gotten from this project. We brainstormed ambitious plans. And I remember, distinctly, making a timeline for when we would put up a “goodbye” message on this blog, which we kept putting off, and never got around to doing. But one of the biggest lessons I have learned from doing this blog is that something that you can’t brainstorm is a sense of momentum. You just have to let things happen as people feel they need to. And so, since the end of the printemps érable, this blog has had quiet moments, but it has also had busier moments, especially at the height of Idle No More and in the fight to abrogate By-law P-6. Last summer, this project was my life; I would work on it constantly, hungrily, until the wee hours of the morning. Since then, it has been largely run by Patricia, who was the very first stranger to get in touch and volunteer her services, 24 hours after I created this blog. It has evolved under her careful guidance. I am glad we never put up that “goodbye” message. I, perhaps, was going into hibernation last fall, as my own energy waned, but that didn’t mean that the whole project would; the incredible thing about collective projects is that energy can shift from one person to another as it needs to. There is always space for some to be tired and to need rest, and for others to carry us forward. I hope the same happens with our larger movement as well.

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May 9, 2013    Marc-André Cyr

Original French Text:

The Marois government is putting into place a “Special commission to examine the events of the spring of 2012”. The objective, you have surely guessed, is not to respond to demands for an inquiry on police brutality, but rather to see that a revolt of this scale never happens again.

Strikes, demonstrations and civil disobedience are effective modes of action. The allow the population to deal with what is affecting them. They are, in effect, the only means at its disposal to really become a social and historical actor.

The people becoming something other than a long series of anonymous X-es? The people becoming something other than a more or less biased poll? The people becoming something other than a spectator of their own existence? It is definitely necessary to see that such a disaster never reproduces itself, this the government has well understood.

Why the student rebellion? Why so many people angry? Our leadership class is so self-important, so used to basking in its fantastical fairy tales that it refuses to see what is nevertheless a fact so obvious that it is brilliant like the sun.

If the people are rebelling, Madame Marois, it’s because of you.

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Josée Legault              May 8, 2013

Original French Text:

Photo : A. Gravel / CC2.0 By-ND2.0

Who’s afraid of the police? The question, though brutal, is however inevitable. 

Yet how can we not ask it while the Marois government swaps an independent commission of inquiry on police behaviour for a special commission of examination on the events of the spring of 2012

It’s timid and most likely useless. 

In fact, this commission cannot examine the “process of police ethics review” already managed by the police forces themselves. The topic is however quite central to the thread of events during the “Maple Spring”. 

The Minister of Public Safety, Stéphane Bergeron, even took the time to specify that he “remains persuaded that the vast majority of police officers in Quebec acted with the required professionalism given the circumstances”. But who ever said that a “majority” of police officers was required for power to be abused? The police follow their superiors’ orders. What were these orders and to what ends were they given? That’s where the real object of an independent inquiry lies. 

The Marois government’s commission will also be behind closed doors. Congratulations on that transparency /sic/. Nor will it benefit from the least binding power. As for its report, it will have to be submitted in any which way as early as next December. That’s including the summer period, which is known to not be encouraging of this kind of habitually complex exercise. Finally, the budget will be $400 000 – peanuts as far as commissions go. 

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Lisa-Marie Gervais              May 2, 2013

Original French Text:


Photo : Annik MH De Carufel Le Devoir

The Saint-Pierre-Claver school is located in the Plateau-Mont-Royal at the intersection of two major streets. 

A citizen assembly aiming to sensitize drivers to the security of the children attending the Saint-Pierre-Claver school, located at the intersection of two major arteries in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, ended unexpectedly Thursday morning when the police intervened by virtue of municipal bylaw P-6. The assembly, that was attended by several elected officials, ended abruptly at around 8am, coinciding with the beginning of classes. 

According to Marianne Giguère, a mother who is very involved in matters of security in the vicinity of the school, around six police officers in cars and on bicycles announced to the 80-odd parents and children who were crossing from one corner of the street to the other, all while respecting the street lights, that the demonstration was illegal by virtue of P-6. The intervention was even more surprising to the parents because the community agent assigned to the school had been advised about the awareness action and had already been onsite since 7:30am. 

"People had begun to cross without impeding traffic, because we wanted it to be a positive and safe demonstration, and the police arrived in their cars, then another two by bicycle. We were told that our demonstration was illegal because we hadn’t provided an itinerary", says Mrs. Giguère. "We dispersed and it turned out all right in one way, because school was starting and there was already a movement of children who were going inside". 


Mrs. Giguère underlines ironically the “discernment” the police officers promised to demonstrate, especially by stating that they would not intervene nor demand an itinerary in cases of celebratory demonstrations following hockey games, for example. “That discernment wasn’t present this morning”, she remarked. 

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Rima Elkouri     April 29, 2013   

Original French Text:

What is left of the student spring? Beyond the feeling of victory among those who opposed a tuition hike, the most important student strike in the history of Quebec has left consequences that we would be wrong to forget. It gave way to a wave of arrests like we had never before seen, and some worrying drifts that we must examine at all costs.

A big clean-up of the spring of 2012 is necessary. A clean-up which must take the form of a public inquiry on the police interventions of last spring. If you still doubt the necessity of such an inquiry, read the text of my colleague Judith Lachapelle on the topic of the first analysis report on this question which will be made public today.

Police brutality, excessive use of force, mass arrests, political profiling… There are dozens of troubling testimonies that makes one want to scream. Testimonies that show the urgency of re-establishing the bond of trust that was damaged during the student dispute.

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