The people of France did something unheard of in Canada: They went on strike.
Not one isolated sector but three million citizens strong. They are backed, according to polls, by three-quarters of the French population.
Schools closed. Flights were cancelled. High speed trains were stopped in their tracks.
Demonstrations (some turned violent) unfolded in 200 communities throughout France to protest how their government is handling the economic crisis.
Canada’s federal stimulus package does little to help those hardest hit by recession, but in France, citizens take to the streets over such political slights.
In Canada at least one provincial government is talking about cutting public sector jobs at the worst possible time, during recession. In France, they’re striking over it.
In Canada, corporations continue to rake in record profits while laying off workers. In France, they’re striking over it.
In Canada, we’re placated by promises of tax cuts. In France, they’re striking over it.
In Canada, our official unemployment rate shot up to seven per cent within the blink of an eye and could reach double digits by year-end. Media reports say France’s unemployment jumped to about eight per cent –- and they’re striking over it.
In Canada, our federal government refuses to fix employment insurance to cover more laid-off workers during recession. So far, our provinces aren’t doing much to improve social assistance programs either.
In France, they’re demanding their government improve public sector wages, raise the minimum wage, increase family welfare and unemployment benefits.
Yes, the French have a reputation for outrage. They stormed the Bastilles in 1789, the flashpoint for the French Revolution, to secure greater equality for all. That sensibility of social justice remains deeply ingrained in the national psyche.
Who knows what it will take for Canadians to express a similar sense of outrage. But with unemployment rising while federal and provincial governments offer few answers, that day may be closer than we think.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.