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Feb 19, 21

The Growing Anti-Curfew Movement in Quebec

A look at the growing anti-lockdown movement in so-called Quebec that rejects both the far-Right and neoliberal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new anti-lock-down movement is emerging in Quebec.

In Montreal, anarchists and other radical Leftists have begun to protest the draconian curfew law which essentially has put the entire province of Quebec on house arrest. The first demonstration was held in the neighbourhood of Hochelaga. A report-back can be found here.

Meanwhile, in Quebec City, banners were hung in various neighborhoods, with the message: “Pour des mesures sanitaires et solidaires, pas policières” (tr: Health and solidarity measures, not police measures). And, in Sherbrooke, effigies were placed throughout the city, with attached messages expressing the negative impacts of the curfew on marginalized populations.

 

One effigy, representing a homeless person, reads: “Où veux-tu que j’aille? Pas de logement : pas de couvre-feu! Amnistie pour les itinérants.” (tr: Where do you want me to go? No housing; no curfew! Amnesty for the homeless). Another, representing an undocumented night worker, reads: “Travailleur de nuit. Payé en dessous de la table: couvre-feu à 20h, pas d’emploi. Comment fais-je pour nourrir mes enfants?” (tr: Night worker. Paid under the table: Curfew at 8pm. No more employment. How do I feed my children?). A third, representing a drug user, reads: “Consommer seul est une condamnation à mort. Après 20h qui sera là pour vérifier si je respire?” (tr: Using alone is a death sentence. After 8 pm who will be there to check if I’m breathing?). A fourth (out of a series of nine), represents a victim of domestic violence, reading: “Où aller après 20h du soir quand mon chum est saoul et me donne des coups?!” (tr: Where to go after 8pm when my boyfriend is drunk and hits me ?!)

The demo organizers – an ad hoc group called Pas de solution policière à la crise sanitaire / No police solution to a health crisis – emphasized that the protest was in favour of COVID-19 mitigation measures, but rejected the curfew as authoritarian and detrimental to an effective pandemic response. The organizers also made a point of rejecting the involvement and presence of anyone associated with far-Right, anti-science conspiracy theorists, highlighting instead a social justice-rooted, pro-science approach to the pandemic.

In that spirit, emphasis was placed on a need measures to combat the pandemic rooted in solidarity and support for the most marginalized of society. The demonstration, which successfully marched through the streets of Hochelaga, emphasized the cruel negative impacts of the curfew and related police harassment on the homeless, sex workers, drug users, undocumented workers and others.

On February 6th, the second anti-curfew demonstration organized by the same group was held. This time, not only was the turn-out significantly higher, the demonstration was also endorsed and supported by a number of other Leftists groups, including the famous CLAC, which played a significant role in the student rebellions of 2012.

Furthermore, Contrepoints Media has put out a call for submissions for Leftist, anarchist, and anti-authoritarian writing regarding COVID-19 in the spirit of developing a critical analysis of the state’s actions during this crisis and how the Left can best organize during these times. That call for submissions can be found here.

Clearly, the ball is rolling. Where will this all lead? It is easy to imagine things gaining momentum, especially as we approach the warmer months. May is known as the “Month of Anarchy” in Montreal, and often political energy is highest in the Spring. If this movement continues to gain momentum, it is easily possible that tens of thousands of people will be taking to the streets soon, and a moment of revolutionary potential will open up.

From the organizers of the February 6th demo:

Thank you to all the participants who came out yesterday to protest against repressive solutions to the health crisis and for truly supportive solutions! We were about 300 strong in the streets to demand an end to the curfew and repressive measures. We made our voices heard.

This demonstration was a success because of you and the support of the many groups and organizations that supported the event. Thank you to everyone who gave speeches denouncing the state’s mismanagement of the pandemic and calling for the end of curfew. Thank you to the CLAC collective and the Verdun Anti-Gentrification collective for supporting and endorsing our event. It was thanks to all these organizations and all the people present that this demonstration was a huge success.

Thanks to all of you, the speech on curfew and the health crisis has changed. A speech resolutely on the left has now emerged. While last December, we were caught in the false alternative between conspiracy-theory-fueled individualism and equally individualistic nationalistic docility, the taboo has now been broken. Now we finally hear the voices of those most impacted and they are in the foreground of the debate. It’s thanks to you all, so we thank you! The struggle continues, let’s not give up!

-Pas de Solution Policiere a la Crise Sanitaire

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