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Montreal in Turmoil: Student Strikes, Bill 78 and the Anarchopanda

Montreal in Turmoil: Student Strikes, Bill 78 and the Anarchopanda

The city of Montreal has been in turmoil for much of 2012, following massive student demonstrations in opposition to a government-imposed hike on university tuitions.

While mostly peaceful, some demonstrators resorted to vandalism and blocked access to bridges and schools. Protesters were also met with violence from riot police, and accusations of brutality became a nightly occurrence.

Desperate to restore order, the Liberal provincial government of Quebec passed the emergency law Bill 78, which has effectively ended the larger protests. Hailed as a pragmatic solution by supporters who say it has rescued the city from anarchy, critics such as the United Nations’ Human Rights Council have condemned Bill 78 as an egregious violation of free expression.

The upheaval caused by the protests and the government’s heavy-handed reactions to them have divided Quebec society, and produced controversial and memorable figures like the Anarchopanda, a junior college professor dressed in an oversized Panda costume who intervenes between riot police and protestors in the hopes of diffusing potentially violent situations.

ReasonTV went to Montreal to explore this complex and still unresolved conflict, which raises all sorts of fundamental questions about free expression, political dissent, and governmental overreach in the name of restoring order.

About 10.30 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Joshua Swain and Fisher.

Music: “The Cuchifritos Groove Instrumental {Wildabeast, 6th Sense, Jelani}” by 6th Sense (http://notherground.blogspot.com)

Go to http://reason.com/reasontv for downloadable versions and subscribe to ReasonTV’s YouTube Channel to receive notifications when new material goes live.

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