This is a report by Sean Rillo Razcka, a member of the NCAFC national committee and the President-elect of the University of London Union.
Hundreds of students gathered at Canada House in Trafalgar Sq last night before marching to the Quebec Government Office and the Canadian Embassy, in a show of solidarity with people of Quebec, not only fighting a proposed decade of university tuition fee rises, but a full-on assault on the right to protest.
Outside Canada House pots and pans were banged in an echo of the nightly Montreal protests, where hundreds of thousands have flouted a protest ban and are asserting the people’s right over the streets. Small red squares of material, the symbol of the Quebec student insurrection were worn by some.
London students, trade unionists & Quebecois protestors gave solidarity messages and told us about the struggle in Quebec, where students have not accepted fees and have decided to stand up for the principle of free education for all. This stand in the face of eternal fee rises and a culture of protest in the universities has led to a militant student movement snowballing into a mass movement against an out of touch government.
This led to emergency Bill 78 to be rushed into law (although its very legality under Canadian constitutional rights is contested) dramatically restricting the right to protest, breaking up the universities until the movement is repressed and instituting huge fines for organisations and individuals protesting. There have been mass arrests of over 600,cand the ban is still being resisted with huge daily demonstrations.
Back in London the static demo moved into a march with chants of ‘no ifs not buts, no education cuts’ as we headed towards the anonymous building housing the Quebec Government Office off Regents Street, and then onto the Canadian Embassy off Grovesnor Sq, delivering our messages to the people inside.
The sight of hundreds of peaceful protestors marching up Pall Mall & New Bond Street had the doors of the gentlemen’s clubs and boutique shops quickly slammed shut. The demonstration took over some of London’s most exclusive streets from St James to Mayfair, where chants and the beeping of luxury car horns mingled for the evening.
The night ended at the Canadian Embassy with more contributions from those present, finishing with a Quebecois student reminding us that the greatest solidarity is an international fight for education.