Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

Tens of thousands of protesters once again took to the streets of Montreal—this time to support a change of government in the upcoming provincial election.

 

[ht: er]

Demonstrators in Montreal have continued to defy an emergency law passed by the provincial government in Quebec to restrict protests by students against planned tuition fee hikes.

The battle over cars, especially its class implications, is taking place in cities across the globe.

Right now, it’s taking place in Montreal—specifically, in the Plateau Mont-Royal borough. Luc Chartrand (in French) contends the plan to widen sidewalks, add bike paths, and close some streets to traffic is a form of class warfare: it’s “nothing but a strategy by the wealthy to grab territory in a centrally located district. . .to the detriment of the general interest of the City.”

Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler counter that “making life difficult for cars could be, in fact, described as a form of class war, but one that works in the long-term interests of the poor and working class.”

The different ways in which the private car strengthened wealthy people’s grip over culture and mobility have largely been forgotten. At the same time, the immense financial burden cars place on the working class seems of only passing importance to its critics.

The largest source of capitalist profit over the past century, the automobile has shaped landscapes, culture and the environment in a host of harmful ways. It’s time for a class-focused challenge to private automobility.

The fact is, without appropriate public transportation, working people are forced to have the freedom to purchase and maintain private cars, to travel to work and to engage in after-work leisure. When private cars are the primary mode of transportation, they’re the hardest hit. Changing the capitalist urban landscape to promote ways of living, working, and getting around other than with private cars can only be to their benefit.