The Hunt for the "Red Squares" in Quebec


red square

Free expression remains under assault in the Canadian province of Quebec, with government employees now forbidden from wearing the ubiquitous "red square," a small piece of red cloth pinned to their clothes indicating support of the student protest movement against college tuition hikes.

Six markers employed by the Ministry of Education were suspended from its Montreal offices on Fullum Street after wearing the symbol associated with the student movement against rising tuition, learned Le Devoir.

Wednesday, two markers were notified by the Human Resources Division that they could not return to work if they wore the red square. On Thursday, four other markers who wore the square in solidarity experienced the same fate.

Early this May, a memo was circulated internally in the Ministry of Education's offices, stating that officials have a "duty of loyalty and fidelity to [the Ministry of Education]." This memo was written because several of the employees were wearing red squares.

A government bureaucracy demanding "loyalty and fidelity" is chilling enough, but the Ministry isn't through. The ban on wearing the red square extends even into employees' personal lives.

"As an employee of the Ministry you have an obligation to display restraint…to act with neutrality in the exercise of your duties and reserve in the public expression of your opinions. This obligation applies in your personal and public lives," was written. "Also, you have the obligation of loyalty and allegiance to the constituted authority that requires you to defend the interests of the ministry." (Italics mine).

The ongoing conflict in Quebec is fraught with pertinent issues regarding free expression and civil liberties, which I explored in a recent Reason TV documentary.

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  1. This is to make us Americans feel better that there’s someplace else – so like us and yet so unlike us – that’s even more fucked up than we are re: civil rights, isn’t it?

    Nice try, Reason. If that’s your REAL name…

    1. Wait, we have a problem with enforced neutrality on government employees?

      Because I don’t.

      I don’t think it’s appropriate for a DMV worker to wear an “Obama for America” pin and I don’t think it’s appropriate for a Ministry worker to wear a “Lower the Kids’ Tuition” cloth.

      1. I just thought red suited them so

      2. Yeah, they probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote, either.

      3. On the job, as a government employee, yeah. On their own time, not so much.

  2. It’s not as if Quebec is really part of Canada.

  3. Hans: The following people are to be released from their captors: In Northern Ireland, the seven members of the New Provo Front. In Canada, the five imprisoned leaders of Liberte de Quebec. In Sri Lanka, the nine members of the Asian Dawn movement…
    Karl: [mouthing silently] Asian Dawn?
    Hans: [covers the radio] I read about them in Time magazine.

    1. Asian Dawn sounds like a rub-n-tug.

      1. Or a particularly racist dish soap.

        1. “Ancient Chinese Secret!”

          1. “Tough on soy sauce stains, but gentle on epicanthic folds”

  4. Red square. I get it.

  5. Free expression !? Would Reason let you in their offices with a FUCK REASON AND THEIR KOCHTOPUS MASTER T-shirt ? That red square pretty much mean the same thing…. But then again, last night we’ve just elected a lady that wore that red square for 4 months as Prime Minister…

    Oh and yes, those red squared fuckers, masked, restrain others students that are against the strike to go to their classes. So yeah sure be on the side of the government employees getting paychecks for no work (since the students aren’t in class).

    Oh and that panda ? Philosophy teacher, fully paid, while goofing around in a panda suit ’cause he as no kids to teach to you see? And don’t even think of not paying them, unions and stuff…

    I’m for free [removed]in your private life) but this isn’t a case of it. It’s a case of biting the hand that feeds you.

    1. If you do not see the difference between a private company barring people from entering their offices and a Ministry demanding neutrality even in their private lives, please remove yourself from the electorate.

      1. The squirrels removed the part where I said that I’m for free expression in your private life. Anybody with 2 working brain cells would have noticed that.

        I don’t really care if government workers bang frying pans in their own time ( and believe me, they did it a lot last spring ) , but I expect them to put aside their political opinions when representing the government and to do what they are paid for and not support thugs.

        And if you’re too dumb to fill in the blank in a sentence as : I’m for free “blank” in your private life, maybe you should consider removing yourself from the electorate too.

        1. I am not in the electorate.

          Thugs? Really? I hate politics. It drives angry people to hyperbole.

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