Living in Pandemonium

While tending the garden at my Rosemont-based church last night at 8 p.m., I got to hear the casserole demonstrations first-hand. The clanging of various pots went on for about half an hour or so before it stopped.

I heard about the idea of protesting by banging on pots between 8 and 9 p.m. earlier this week, but last night was my first chance to hear how it sounds firsthand. Wow, I thought. What a creative way to avoid the ramifications of Bill 78.

As I drove home through downtown neighbourhoods an hour and a half later, however, loud pot-banging could still be heard. I wondered how parents with small children cope with all the noise.

This kind of volleyball thinking is typical in Montreal these days. Citizens are becoming more and more polarized between those who hold disdain for student protests and a growing number of people who join them. At this point, neither student nor government leaders are in control. I’m not sure that anything other than an election will stop protest momentum now.

So far, every move the government makes increases the number of people joining the protests, in part because politicians have no way to test their actions before they take them. There are no referendums, no consultations, nothing. Citizens have no way to get the government to reverse or change decisions other than protesting.

Meanwhile, we’re all hearing how student members of the largest student group, Classe, get to comment on and vote to approve every decision their leaders make. This on-going direct democracy gives student leaders the grass roots knowledge they need. It also has allowed them to retain legitimacy even in the face of media and government accusations of the possibility of intimidation after some associations chose to hold open votes.

Those of us who are unsatisfied with representative democracy the way it functions in Quebec are inspired by the direct democracy the students enjoy and their creativity at affecting change between elections.

We also worry about those suffering the consequences of so much pandemonium.



For background on why people are banging pots and pans, see

For background on the law that’s caused all the fervor, see this story by two University of Montreal professors in the New York Times:

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Tracey Arial

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Tracey Arial

Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.

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