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:
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.
May 9, 2013 Marc-André Cyr
Original French Text: http://voir.ca/marc-andre-cyr/2013/05/09/vous-madame-marois/
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.
Josée Legault May 8, 2013
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.
Lisa-Marie Gervais May 2, 2013
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.
Rima Elkouri April 29, 2013
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.
Judith Lachapelle April 29, 2013
Caption: The maple spring left deep wounds, according to the report entitled Repression, Discrimination and Student Strike
Besmirched freedom of expression, excessive use of force, police impunity, political profiling… The bond of trust between a segment of the population and law enforcement and police was broken over the Spring of 2012, according to a new analysis report obtained by La Presse.
The 48-page document entitled Repression, Discrimination and Student Strike was jointly drafted by the Ligue des droits et libertés, the Association des juristes progressistes and the Association pour use solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ). It will be made public on Monday during a press conference in Montréal.
The three organizations have collected 274 testimonies from individuals who claim to have been the object of either intimidation or police brutality, of detention or accusation, or who have suffered discrimination because they wore a red square, throughout the maple spring’s student uprising.
The authors are worried. “It is extremely dangerous for freedom of expression or for the right to peaceful assembly, that this oppressive tendency towards the criminalization [transl. note: in French, there is the term “judiciarisation” that has no English equivalent, that implies a social phenomenon of appealing to the judicial system to solve problems that could potentially be solved otherwise. If you know of a fitting English word, please email us!] of the social contestation be a permanent fixture here in Quebec.”
In fact, they observe, “the repression is so vast, the arrests are so numerous, the attitude of the police officers is so scornful and brutal that a segment of the population is now straight out afraid of going out in the street to protest in support of their opinions and their dissent.”
Véronique Robert April 23, 2013
Original French Text: http://voir.ca/veronique-robert/2013/04/23/p-6-ou-comment-se-debarrasser-de-la-mens-rea/
There are several different systems of criminal liability.
Without wanting to give a class on criminal law 101, I will try to briefly explain them in order to demonstrate the uselessness of Bylaw P-6 on the prevention of disturbances of the peace, of public security and order, and on the use of the public domain. Its uselessness as well as its excessive nature.
So, there are different systems of criminal liability: 1) absolute liability, 2) strict liability, 3) mens rea.
In the first case, an individual is guilty no matter if he or she had intended to commit the offence. Such is the case with parking restrictions. It is not germane to contest such a ticket by explaining to the judge that you had a headache and urgently needed to run into the pharmacy. There is nearly no way to defend yourself against an accusation brought on under the system of absolute liability, except, obviously, by saying “that’s not true, I was not driving at 150 km/h” or “my brother was driving, not me”. You could also convince the judge that you did not have a choice but to pass by crossing the double line because the bus that was ahead of you had been stalled for a few hours.
But what we must remember about absolute liability offences, which are most often found in provincial criminal laws, in some federal criminal laws, and in municipal bylaws, is that the prosecution does not have to prove that the offender had malicious intent when he or she was committing the offence: moral fault need not be proven, but simply that the action was committed.