Modern-day Robin Hoods protest against austerity

The Grande manifestation pour la justice sociale demonstration in Montreal denounced the provincial government’s austerity measures. Photo by Alissa Muller

Coalition de la Main Rouge advocates for reinvestment in public services

About 700 people dressed as modern-day Robin Hoods gathered in Villeray Park on Oct. 28 for the Grande manifestation pour la justice sociale. The event, organized by Coalition de la Main Rouge (CMR), aimed to symbolically give back to the community, as Robin Hood would, by denouncing the provincial government’s austerity measures.

The Grande manifestation was the first event in the CMR’s campaign for social equity and justice which advocates for a more fair distribution of wealth.

The protest began at 1 p.m. with a speech given by CMR spokespersons Dominique Daigneault and Véronique Laflamme, who welcomed those who had travelled from regions like Estrie, Quebec City, Chaudière-Appalaches and Mauricie to show their opposition to Couillard’s government.

A carriage filled with fake money bags then led the march through the Villeray—St-Michel—Parc-Extension borough to represent the money taken away by provincial budget cuts. During the march, the band of Robin Hoods stopped the procession in front of strategic places, dropping off the money bags to demonstrate how austerity measures have affected the community. One such stop was at the Centre de la petite enfance (CPE) St-Marc. According to CMR’s Facebook page, the CPE has faced budget cuts of $300 million in recent years.

Among the protestors was Alexandra Pierre, the supervisor of communications and records for La Table des regroupements provinciaux d’organisme communautaire et bénévole, an alliance of social services groups. According to Pierre, it is crucial to maintain and reinforce the province’s social safety nets.

CMR’s goal is to push the government to reinvest significantly in publics services, social programs and independent community action, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Daigneault, who is also the president of the Conseil central de Montréal métropolitain, said implementing harsh austerity measures that limit public services ignores the fact that those services are still needed by the community. She claimed the government lacks compassion and consideration for citizens, especially the most vulnerable.

Laflamme argued that the Liberal government should use the money at its disposal to invest in the community rather than to reduce taxes.

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