No, not the human classification kind, but the Formula One Grand Prix (GP) Automobile kind. But I did capture your interest, didn't I?
The Canadian GP is scheduled for June 8, 9, and 10, 2012. The race, held on Montreal's Isle Notre Dame, is supposed to have an economic impact of an estimated 1.6 million Canadian dollars in revenue to Quebec and Montreal, and it attracts more than 100,000 people.
Montreal city officials say that measures to ensure that the GP race weekend will be peaceful have been developed and will be enforced.
But students at the city's four main universities earlier this month passed a resolution which promised to "organise a weekend of disruptions in order to cancel the Formula 1 Grand Prix and its jet-set events which represent sexist, anti-environmental, elitist and economic values that must be abolished."
CLASSÉ is the motivating force behind the resolution. ASSÉ (pronounced ah-say, a play on "assez," the French word for "enough") is a very anti-capitalist organization. CLASSÉ is the "coalition large" of ASSÉ. CLASSÉ allows the members of the other organizations, such as Canadian student organizations, to affiliate with it as a way of strengthening student numbers and improving coordination of the strike that college students have called to protest tuition hikes. This allows ASSÉ to influence student politics, while at the same time keeping its separate organizational identity. CLASSÉ spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said the group would use the GP as a forum to raise its grievances with Quebec, but it would not prevent people from going to the race.
Why is Montreal in such an uproar? College students are protesting a 75-percent increase in tuition over the next seven years. But the protests have turned into a more general public campaign against unpopular premier Jean Charest.
In response to the tuition increase proposal by Quebec Premier Jean Charest's Liberal government, about 30 percent of Montreal students went on strike on February 14, 2012. They have been on strike for at least 17 weeks. For the last month, nightly marches of thousands of students (and others) have taken place on Montreal's main boulevards. The strike celebrated 100 days on May 22, 2012, with some 400,000 people marching through Montreal. Negotiations between student groups and the Charest government have broken down.
In response to student actions, the Charest government passed Law 78, which criminalizes the student strike by placing restrictions on the right to demonstrate over any issue, anywhere in the province of Quebec. Law 78 calls for fines of up to 35,000 Canadian dollars for individuals and up to 125,000 Canadian dollars for organizations. Law 78 outlines regulations governing demonstrations of over 50 people, including having to give eight hours' notice for details such as the protest route, the duration, and the time at which they are being held.
And the strike actions are now not limited only to students. Mehmet Yayla, 40, an unemployed oceanographer (not a student), said, "I'm planning to go there [downtown Montreal] because I think the only strong opposition right now in Quebec is the students." Regarding Law 78, Matthew Larose, a 32-year-old construction foreman (also not a student), said, "If they can do it in Quebec, they can do it everywhere else. It sets a bad precedent for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of everything ... and it's disgraceful." "I'm here in solidarity with the students," said Henri Fernand, 65, who took part in the protest in his wheelchair.
How has/will CLASSÉ actions affected the Canadian Grand Prix? Organizers have canceled the "Open Doors" event before the GP because it may be disrupted by student protests. Fans will not be able to walk around the pitlane or see how the cars are assembled. Believe me: that is a big deal. Canada GP President François Dumontier said, "Our ticket sales are down over the last month or so. People didn't buy the ticket, saying they are afraid to come to Montreal."
Hacktivist group Anonymous has called for a boycott of the Canadian GP. Anonymous released a statement warning people not to buy GP tickets or merchandise. The call for a boycott is working so far. The Canadian GP is not expected to be a sell out this year, as several thousand tickets remain unsold ahead of the race, with fans coming from abroad having decided to forgo this year's event.
A student protest is scheduled to take place in Montreal's subway system on race day, as fans head towards the circuit. Representing itself as an experiment "to see how many people can get on the metro," a Facebook page has been set up to encourage students to take a trip on the Montreal subway system's yellow line, the only one with a station on Isle Notre Dame, where the Canadian GP is located. And guess the time of the "experiment." It is scheduled for 10:30 A.M., when tens of thousands of fans will be heading for the race. CLASSÉ says it will not bother or try to stop race fans but said that it intends to disrupt the Canadian GP.
How is/has CLASSÉ actions affected Quebec in general and Montreal in particular? Michel Leblanc, chief executive of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, who described tourism as the city's fourth-most important industry, said some hotels saw bookings fall 25 percent. The Hotel Association of Greater Montreal, which represents 77 area hotels, recently revised downward its June 2012 forecast for room revenues by 8 percent. Bill Brown, the association's executive vice president, said protests are hurting business. He said declines have been particularly steep in downtown Montreal, where nightly marches are concentrated.
Massimo Lecas, co-owner of Buonanotte, an Italian restaurant in downtown Montreal, needs rib-eye steaks, veal chops, and lobster to load three large grills set up in the street for the GP and the three-day party it inspires. That one weekend brings in as much revenue as the restaurant makes in January and February combined. But Lecas, who depends on tourism, worries that the student strike will hurt business during the GP and the event-focused tourism season it initiates.
So what? Well, there are three things to consider. First, the actions of CLASSÉ sound quite a bit like a certain U.S. anti-capitalist political party of late. And its tactics sound much like SEIU and other union tactics. Second, how many events such as the Canadian GP does the U.S. have? The MLB All-Star game (July 10) and many college and professional football games come to mind. Third, whom do you think the MSM will sympathize with and give favorable coverage to if similar demonstrations occur in this country? Does OWS ring a bell? And whom do you think the MSM will feature as we get nearer to November?
Dr. Beatty earned a Ph.D. in quantitative management and statistics from Florida State University. He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making. He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired. Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years. He blogs at rwno.limewebs.com.