In 2010, as organizing was ramping up, a majority of Quebecois were already favorable to the tuition hike, thanks to generous mass media coverage given to politicians to defend their project as well as sympathetic editorials. The external legitimacy of the movement was relatively low. Media rarely bothered to seriously report on the opinions and ideas of students regarding the hike. Student unions couldn’t hope to reverse that trend and force the issue into public debate through lobbyism and representation.
However, by attempting to disrupt business as usual, as social movements have done historically to further progressive causes, students could force the government into negotiations and make their resistance apparent to the public eye. We believed that disrupting economic and governmental activity was our best chance at building leverage against the political leadership.
Of course, we expected state repression before any negotiations took place, but we were confident in our ability to resist it. If the movement could cope with the attacks of the state, it would surely be victorious. Based on past experiences, we knew that an unlimited general strike had that kind of potential.
For such a strike to be successful, it needs very strong internal legitimacy. In that regard, escalation of tactics and direct democracy are two of ASSE’s (or CLASSE’s) most important principles. Through their application, we could convince more and more people to oppose the tuition hike and become involved in the process of building resistance.