In February 2012, as the Occupy movement tapered off, a strike broke out against austerity measures in the Québécois higher education system. Prevented from occupying buildings as it had in 2005, the student movement shifted to a strategy of economic disruption: blockading businesses, interrupting conferences and tourist events, and spreading chaos in the streets. At its peak, the resulting unrest surpassed any protest movement in North America for a generation.
In this comprehensive report, we chart the strike action by action, from its awkward beginnings through the high point of the revolt and the emergency measures with which the government attempted to suppress it. At each stage in its development, we explore why the strike assumed the forms it did, and analyze the forces competing to push it forward, suppress it, or coopt it. Like the Oakland port blockade of November 2, 2011, the strike suggests a path forward out of the strategic impasse resulting from the Occupy evictions; it also demonstrates that building a capacity for confrontation is an infrastructural project, no less so than any community institution.