Do Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement, Greek protests marches, the change in the presidency of France and the student protests and riots in Quebec have anything in common?
In life there is an element of imitation of what occurs in one place to have similar events arise in other parts of the world. The circumstances may be vastly different; the activity can be very similar.
The revolts in the Arab dictatorships are a clear and passionate demand for change. It is fuelled by a high proportion of the population being young and seeing their future as one with little or no promise. They believe they give up little by demanding change in government and the future economy of their countries.
While the Occupy Wall Street Movement was a protest about social inequity, it was based upon some legitimate grievances. It highlighted the impact of globalization and the rapid decline of the middle class in the United States. It is a frank realization that the American Dream is out of reach for most Americans and wealth distribution is becoming increasingly distorted.
The change in the presidency of France and the political turmoil in Greece are simply an announcement by the citizens that they are not willing to endure austerity. While France has a stronger economy, the financial well-being of Europe in the coming years is still in doubt. Many of the problems in European countries are the direct result of successive governments promising more to get elected than their economies can sustain on an ongoing basis. When you spend more than you make, you end up with an ever-growing deficit. In countries, just like your home, you can spend more than your income sometimes, but it cannot go on forever.
The student strikes or revolt in Quebec is based on belief in entitlement. It does not matter that they already have lower university tuitions than anywhere else in the country, they want more. If students have very low or free tuitions, then the financing of their education falls to the other taxpayers in the province. From a political perspective there does not appear to be an appetite amongst other taxpayers for that kind of scheme.
The students participating appear to be a minority, but a vigorous minority with the capacity for violence and a disregard for democratic rights of others. While civilized protest and debate are essential in a free society, coercion by threats to disrupt or destroy the rights of others is not. That is not the privilege of any group or individual.
The efforts of the students is to create a privileged group. It is an attitude that does not help seeing a bright future. If they are the privileged as students, what will their attitude be when they move into mainstream Quebec society? Will the same attitude prevail and the now adult students firmly believe their values are the only valid ones? That is what dictatorships are made of.
There is not a university student anywhere in Canada who would not like to see lower tuition fees, but students in other provinces are not acting like goons to force their wishes upon everyone else. Outside of Quebec, there is also a debate on the cost of post-secondary education with a multitude of views.
Instead of rioting, many of those students are politically active with the intent to see change through the legal and legitimate political system.
That is the proper way to create change in a democratic and equitable society.