Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Phebus Talks Forever and Ever and Ever...

The Strike of the General Assembly:
An Interview with Nicolas Phebus (NEFAC)

Upping The Ante

In this interview Nicolas Phebus reflects on the Québec student movement and its most recent mobilization in the Spring of 2005 against cuts to education funding by the ruling Liberal Party under Jean Charest. The Liberals’ attempt to convert more than 100 million dollars in grants and bursaries into loans, thereby effectively doubling the indebtedness of poorer students, was met by an unprecedented student mobilization. The mobilization evolved into a massive general strike: at its peak, more than 200,000 college and university students were out on strike. Highlighted by a demonstration involving as many as 100,000 students in Montréal on March 16, the student mobilization also involved school occupations and a campaign of economic disruption, including a blockade of the Port of Montréal.

The strike was effectively ended when the government reversed course and agreed to abandon the loan conversion scheme. The education sector will continue to be an important front in the resistance to neoliberalism, with students in Québec once again leading the way. In this interview with Aidan Conway, Phebus provides some historical context for this most recent student struggle and reflects on the openings it has provided for developing radical perspectives on, and currents within, contemporary social struggles.


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