University students mobilize in Montreal after Trump wins the U.S. elections
Since the results of the U.S. presidential election were announced, university groups, such as the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia (QPIRG Concordia) and Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), have hosted events in opposition of the win of president-elect Donald Trump.
“When I say fuck, you say Trump!,” shouted SSMU president Ben Ger to the crowd gathered outside of Redpath Museum on the McGill campus on Thursday, Nov. 18. “Fuck,” shouted Ger. “Trump!,” shouted the crowd of about 20 students in response. “Not my president!,” Ger yelled back.
“After the election, I noticed that some of my friends supported Donald Trump,” said Charles Keita, a participant at the event, a McGill student and Florida resident. He said while this is not an issue, as a person of colour, it is concerning to see some of the statements his friends have shared in support of Trump. However, he mentioned there is a need for dialogue between both political spectrums.
“As a society, we should keep in contact with those with differing opinions because it’s the only way we can make the conversation continue,” said Keita. “By communication, we can still make a difference and that’s why we shouldn’t be silent—not today, not tomorrow—because our voices are needed.”
On the morning of the U.S. election, QPIRG Concordia announced a public community meeting to be held the following day, said Jaggi Singh, the programming and working groups coordinator for QPIRG Concordia. “There were more than 100 people who showed up—all of whom were in some way critical of or opposed to the policies of Trump and what Trump represents.”
There are plenty of reasons why Trump’s win would anger people and create fear, said Singh. “Trump is someone who ran a campaign on demonizing and marginalizing migrants,” Singh said, adding that he openly proposed to ban an entire minority group and bragged about sexually assaulting women.
Singh said there were many ideas put forth by community members to QPIRG Concordia, including monitoring hate crimes and using popular education to inform people about the policies being implemented, said Singh. Popular education is described as education aimed at empowering those who feel marginalized and encourage them through their learning to generate social change.
“Some people emphasized being able to [converse with] some people who might be empathetic to Trump’s ideas,” said Singh. “We, as Canadians in general, can’t live in this bubble. People just can’t be like, ‘Well I’m not that type of person so I’m just going to ignore them’—we need to engage people.”
Concordia journalism student Julian Krajewski, who is eligible for an American citizenship, said he feels QPIRG is not providing that opportunity to develop dialogue between the left and right, as he was banned from commenting on QPIRG Concordia’s first post-election “Resist Trump!” event on Facebook.
“I got banned from one of the events for just asking a question about my safety if I showed up in a MAGA hat,” said Krajewski, referring to his Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat.
“It sounds troll-y to them—I wasn’t trying to be troll-y. I was just asking what would happen if I showed up because, in their description of the event, it just says they are organizing to come together in resistance against the Trump movement.”
Singh responded to The Concordian about the instance, stating the “Resist Trump!” community meeting was for people who oppose Trump and his far-right, anti-immigrant, racist and misogynist policies. “Julian Krajewski clearly supports Trump and openly expresses far-right, anti-immigrant views, so it makes no sense for him to join the group except to troll it,” said Singh. “He is, of course, free to set up a “Support Trump” Facebook group for people who share his views, or to try to organize a public debate about Trump.” Singh said he does not recall Krajewski trying to join the group.
“I have serious concerns about the safety of my ideas and my ability to openly express them in the very institution of our society that is supposed to house and encourage such discussions,” said Krajewski. He said the QPIRG members he has interacted with have treated him with hostility and unjustified skepticism and belittling. “The attitude that anyone who doesn’t [agree] with left-wing politics on campus needs to be resisted or ignored or excluded is the very same attitude that they are accusing Trump supporters of,” he said.
“There are definitely very quiet Trump supporters on campus. I’m definitely the most vocal that I’ve ever seen,” said Krajewski.
Krajewski said the Trump movement has been labeled as racist due to the media. Trump himself has been identified as a racist, a white supremacist and a misogynist, which Krajewski said is because the media attempted to find anything to portray him negatively, and denied manipulating video and audio footage of him. “In all his rallies, he has said ‘I want to help Americans, if you pay your taxes—doesn’t matter what skin colour, what gender you are,’” said Krajewski.
“Trump is the pro-American guy and he’s the first pro-American politician to actually have a chance to be elected [in my lifetime],” said Krajewski. “It was the great American resurgence, the way I see it. We’re going to have to see how it plays out.”
Graham Dodds, an associate professor from Concordia’s political science department, offered his opinion on the U.S. election results, particularly on how Trump’s win will affect Canada-U.S. relations. He said, while it will not be like the “bromance” portrayed between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama, the US-Canadian relationship is more institutional than based on leaders and their political leanings. “Presidents and prime ministers come and go, but the strong Canada-U.S. relationship largely persists,” said Dodds. “Even though Trump might greatly strain the relationship, the relationship is strong enough that it will endure, hopefully.”
“Trump is going to be inaugurated on Jan. 20. He is not perceived as the actual president of a huge segment of the population, so there’ll be protests,” said Singh. “I think it’s fair to say Montreal [will] join into those protests.”
Singh said Prime Minister Trudeau extended an invitation for Trump to come to Canada. “It’s fair to expect Trump to be in Ottawa or the Ottawa area in the early months of 2017,” said Singh.
Singh announced yesterday QPIRG will be visiting Ottawa if Trump accepts Trudeau’s invitation. Though the details have not been finalized, as Trump has not yet responded to Trudeau, QPIRG plans to mobilize if a visit from the future president is scheduled.
QPIRG Concordia will be hosting the next “Resist Trump!” community meeting on Nov. 23 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at QPIRG Concordia, at 1500 de Maisonneuve. If there are too many attendees, they will meet in the CSU lounge on the seventh floor of the Hall building.