Call Me Stormy

Finding righteous currents in turbulent times

Protests Spur Montreal Debate

Massive student protests in Montreal extending over much of 2012 have spurred a government crackdown on free speech, intensifying the debate over finding the right balance between protecting political dissent and restoring order. The protests, aimed against university tuition hikes, have been mostly peaceful, but incidents of vandalism occurred, and some demonstrators blocked access to public schools and bridges. In response, Quebec’s Liberal provincial government passed Bill 78, which imposed tough measures against the protesters, including stiff fines and restrictions against mobilizing in designated places.

Bill 78 has served as a lightning rod for criticism, condemned as a violation of free speech by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. But many residents welcomed the measure, having grown weary of the protests disrupting everyday commerce in Canada’s second largest city, with a population pushing 3.5 million. Reason.TV traveled to Montreal to explore the controversy and to interview the principals in the conflict, among them the “Anarchopanda,” a junior college philosophy professor dressed in a panda costume who frequently intervened in an effort to diffuse potential violence between students and riot police.

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