June 4, 2012

Dear Mom and Dad, Parents of Another Generation: A Letter on the Quebec Student Strike

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Written by: Stephanie Nazywalskyj
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Dear Mom and Dad,

I regret to inform you that the Canada you grew up in is no more.

The mass media has always been a brainwashing mechanism and source of propaganda for those with hefty pay checks and arbitrary power. Now, more than ever, I am so tired of real, honest people and honourable movements being discredited. It horrifies me that you have fallen victim to the lies and spread of one-sided information and I can no longer sit back burying my sentiments. So, I write to you now because it is the only way that I know how to communicate the emotions bubbling inside of me and the thoughts tormenting my mind.

One of the first things that we learn in PR is to maintain good relations with the mass media as it is the most efficient and effective means of reaching the population at large. But in today’s capitalist society, editors are restricted to opinion that aligns with their financial supporters, and so the truth is tainted.

Hitler brainwashed an entire nation to kill innocent people via the mass media and propaganda/PR tactics, blaming Jews for German poverty. I choose this as an example, not for a lack of a better one, but because our grandfather’s life was ripped apart and threatened as a result of that period in history; a war based entirely on a bunch of lies created by a few people in power that resulted in widespread suffering.

Nearly a century later we see similar things happening in Canada. Sure, people aren’t being murdered, but despite the evolution of humanity, our values and spirit are being threatened and revoked. Not even our national anthem, which proudly claims: “O Canada / Thou true North strong and free,” is accurate anymore. The current conservative, majority government has no opposition, and therefore no system of check and balance in place. What Harper says goes, and anything else is vetoed and banned from serious consideration on the daily agendas of parliament.

Hundreds of thousands of people — children, students, couples, parents, Anglophones and Francophones, and even the elderly — unite wearing red squares of solidarity, to march peacefully as one, day after day and yet the media insists on showing the occasional broken window by the odd, troubled misfit. You hear about the rising number of arrests, but what you don’t see is that it is of innocent, passive protesters who are being attacked via violent and barbaric forces: gas bombs, pepper spray, kettling, etc. Why is it that the sheer contrast of police protected by armour and helmets pushing unarmed girls and boys to the ground, spraying them with harmful, life-threatening chemicals, and beating them with batons for simply gathering, walking, and talking doesn’t create a cause for concern? Why doesn’t this make you angry? No one is safe from the wrath of Law 78.

Even the media is being attacked for filming the marches (and since when is the media not allowed access to capture news and events??). The Concordia University student-run TV station (CUTV) work day and night to provide unbiased, real, live feeds of the manifestations, and even they have been regularly assaulted by the police, resulting in both their physical persons and equipment being harmed.

I am not so naive as to ignore the fact that the police are overworked, tired, and accountable to the orders of their superiors, but this latest law and series of tactics go against everything that makes us Canadian in the first place; it infringes upon our basic human rights: freedom of expression and the right to public assembly. If the people can’t speak out, then the government is entirely in control. And with a majority government, we, the members of this once great nation, for the first time in a long time, literally have no voice. Similarly, even political parties, who hold some of the votes of the population, hold no power in parliament. Harper has successfully annihilated all opposition; public and political alike. How can you continue to ignore this?

Who would have thought that Canada would turn into a draconian society, with military-orientated policies and purchases, anti-abortion and anti-gay sentiments, and now anti-democratic law. At the risk of planting ideas and being slightly over-dramatic, it’s amazing that the government hasn’t banned our right to vote. But then again, who knows what the conservative government will achieve during their tenure.

We’ve known for a long time that real, true democracy (as it is defined in the dictionary) does not prevail: government’s regularly make quickfire decisions on policy and yet interest groups with genuine, public concerns spend years fighting for the people and positive change; capitalism and greed rage across all western nations, but this special law blatantly and unforgivably goes against the very values that Canadian society was formed upon – you remember what the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is, right?

This is not okay. And I cannot stay quiet any longer. Student debt (of which I have plenty) is certainly an issue, but concerns have shifted to matters of wide-spread unfairness. It is time for the rest of Canada to see past the tuition strike, it is time for them to wake up and stand for what is theirs, it is time for them to recognize that a much-needed revolution is underway, and the support of all generations is vital. Should the media continue to shed Quebec in a negative light, and should the government carry on in their efforts to delegalize human rights, Canada will turn into a backwards, archaic, dictatorship, like the very one our grandfather fought to flee from in an effort to give us a better life.
I understand if you don’t believe me, I am known to rant and rave until blue in the face on all matters, be them important or trivial (and yes, they are most often trivial). So, below I include the voices of other people: scholars, lawyers, students, and even some of the local media who, following the enforcement of the special law, are now revealing the real issues that plague today.

With love from your daughter, a true Canadian and proud Quebecoise —








About the Author

Stephanie Nazywalskyj
Stephanie Nazywalskyj
Stephanie Nazywalskyj is an English Literature Major, PR Graduate, and writer from Montreal. Passionate about humanitarian work, she currently interns with a non-profit that supports developmental initiatives in Uganda. In her spare time she indulges her wanderlust by escaping to faraway places such as Europe, Australia … and Vancouver. Her seductively plump cheeks are the result of being raised on wholesome, hearty Ukrainian food.



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  1. Joce

    The speech below was written and given in 1961 by JFK. He was speaking about the role of the press, and the importance of having educated open debates among citizens on important issues. He goes on to say that his government “intend(s) to accept full responsibility for (their) errors; and (they) expect (citizens) to point them out when (they) miss them.”

    How perverted our ideas of democracy and civic responsibility have become. We have an obligation to question our government.

    “It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation—an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people—to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well—the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.

    No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.

    I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers—I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for, as a wise man once said: “An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

    Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed—and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian law-maker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment—the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution—not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”—but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

    This means greater coverage and analysis of international news—for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security—and we intend to do it.

    It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass, gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations first forged by the compass have made us all citizens of the world, the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all. In that one world’s efforts to live together, the evolution of gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible consequences of failure.

    And so it is to the printing press—to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news—that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.” – JFK

    “President and the Press” Speech (April 27, 1961)
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

  2. James

    Hi, Stephanie. I hope your mom and dad appreciate the effort and the sentiment of your letter. I have only one concern, you clearly confuse the Federal government (under Stephen Harper) and the Provincial government (under Jean Charest).

    It will be very difficult for people to cite your appeal as evidence of a considered opinion until you disambiguate those references to the federal conservatives which ought to be to the provincial liberals.

    I totally get where you’re coming from and applaud your effort to speak up. I encourage you to revise and tweak the content to reflect our political reality.

    I also strongly encourage you to participate in the next provincial and federal elections. Our parliamentary democratic process works by proxy and requires active participation by concerned members of the community to inform and change government each and every time an election is held. We do elect governments to “rule over us” for periods up to five years. Sadly many of us don’t like what majority governments do in that “ruling period.” I personally would have accepted another conservative minority government over this federal Harper mess – but the rest of Canada had their say this time.

    Together, you and I and our friends, must make a change from within the system. We don’t want anarchy, we want better responsible government.

  3. Stephanie Nazywalskyj

    Thank you, Jose and James.
    Definitely no confusion with regards to the machinery of government. I was broadly addressing provincial as well as federal matters that bother me and seem to go overlooked by my parents.

  4. Stephanie Nazywalskyj


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