Thursday, May 9, 2013

Video Of The Week: The Mahones

This is the second time I'll have featured The Mahones, this time with their most political video thus far.

To quote the band themselves:
In summer of 2012, The Mahones recorded their 11th album, Angels & Devils, in our hometown of Montreal. At the time, Montreal students came together to protest the proposed tuition hikes, and on March 22nd, 2012, over 300,000 students and supporters united to exercise their right to peaceful assembly.
Sadly, the Quebec government responded by passing bill 78, an emergency bill restricting freedom of assembly, protest, or picketing on or near university grounds, and anywhere in Quebec without prior police approval. It was entirely unconstitutional, and a direct violation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. It has brought shame to the province of Quebec, and it escalated the student protests from an issue affecting those seeking an education (which is a right, not a privilege), to an issue affecting Canadian society as a whole.

The Mahones stand united with the 500,000 students, supporters, and citizens who protested to end this violation of fundamental rights, and took to the streets to fight back against austerity. Never stop pushing back!

This song is for you.

The Mahones have been touring relentlessly of late, and may have missed out on the recent happenings in our fair town, so let me update you on the situation: after the provincial passed Law 78, when it looked like it was going to be overturned - it was - Montréal passed By-law P6, which essentially carries the same rules, but adds the power of police to arrest, detain and fine participants prior to actually assembling, for any group of over 3 people who would not have given the cops their itinerary 24 hours in advance; not just that, the police also have the right to refuse your itinerary altogether. Also, if you do provide one, you are considered the de facto ''event organizer'' and can/will be held responsible for any crime or illegal action committed during the rally, even if done by a complete stranger at the other end of it.

Needless to say, this will neither stand the test of time nor the judicial system, but in the meantime,  participants are fined $637 every time. The cops, when they aren't busy charging protesters for no reason and perfecting the art of police brutality, kettle all present, whether they're participating or not, even journalists, and it looks like this (and is illegal in most civilized countries, including England, which technically owns Canada):

The Montréal police's spokesperson even famously declared:
The Charter [of rights and freedoms] protects the right to freedom of expression, but there is no right to protest.
You can understand why most folks just don't know what to do as the rights they thought they had are proven time and time again to be mere illusions. As one guy who often has an opinion on most topics said:
What do we do [now]? We can’t accept our city becoming a police state. We can’t accept P-6 and provide a route for spontaneous demonstrations. But we also can’t keep getting hurt, kettled and arbitrarily arrested.
If you have any ideas, please share them. I’m kinda stumped.
And that's pretty much where we're at now.

I wanted to make a video like this myself, for my recording of the Skip James classic Hard Times Killing Floor Blues, which should be ready in a couple of weeks. The Mahones have beaten me to it, and I'm really glad they did. Their voice rings loud and they make our town proud, here and abroad. I have a feeling it may require international pressure to hand us back our freedom, because right now, probably because of Canada's great reputation in pushing for human rights in the rest of the world for the past 100 years, the international eyes watching are merely befuddled by the situation, probably unaware that an entire generation of Quebecers is suffering broken bones, loss of limbs, concussions, harassment, profiling - for merely standing up for what they believe in.

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