Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information

Northvolt: the poison-tree will fall

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May 152024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Let the axe
Strike at the root, the poison-tree will fall

On Sunday, May 5th, five incendiary devices were placed at the Northvolt construction site in Quebec. This action was taken to damage machinery and reduce the project’s ability to continue. Unfortunately, these devices failed to ignite. If there is one takeaway to share, when choosing materials consider how weather (high humidity or rain) might decrease the chances of a device igniting. The longer the timer, the longer the device will be exposed to environmental factors thereby decreasing the window of success.

Why choosing to attack and damage property? While Northvolt, a transnational corporation, sells themselves as the leader of the green transition, they are in fact its headstone. The electric vehicles the company plans to provide with their batteries are a false solution to the environmental destruction caused by industrial society; rather this expension of the automotive industry is only allowing the devastating impact of car infrastructure to continue. With this project, Canada’s insatiable appetite for natural resources will only grow. Lithium mining, which is essential in the process of producing Northvolt’s “green” Lithium Ion batteries, is poisoning human communities and entire ecosystems across the land. Lithium is already being extracted from unceded Indigenous territories here in “Quebec”, with many new mines planning to start operating in the next few years. With this kind of mega project, lakes, forests and wetlands will disappear under new roads and pit mines. First Nations will loose access to their traditional territories and with that loss, the ability to practice and sustain their ancestral ways of living and relating to the land. They will be surveilled and harassed by workers and security. The animals of these territories will die or will have to migrate elsewhere as their homes are destroyed.

Has anyone else noticed how quiet the land around Northvolt has become since they chopped down the trees and destroyed the wetlands? It’s eerily silent.

Capitalism and the State are in league, dumping public funds into private corporations that will only worsen the ecological crisis across the globe. This is why we must act, and more often than not, we must act beyond the laws imposed on these lands by governments. The Quebec government has already dropped regulations put in place to protect the environment and looked the other way while Northvolt violates numerous laws and codes. This is because Legault’s government (like any colonial gorvernment), is politically invested in making this project happen. However, the future remains to be written. We still have choices to make. We still can act! We must not be guided by crooked laws, but by the love and care we and others have for the collective health of all beings, the land, the water and the desire for a better world through struggle against colonial structures. Armed with our convictions, let us go into the night and choose to take the necessary risks to fight for a livable future.

Tire Fire for Palestine

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May 022024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

In the night of the 29th of April anarchists started a tire fire on the train tracks in St-Henri. The action was done to disrupt train traffic momentarily in solidarity with Palestine and the anti-capitalist 1st of May. We hope this action inspires others to disrupt the economy and the flow of capital across the world.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Tenants Raging Against Airbnb

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Apr 252024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Tenant rage strikes again!

In view of tenants’ day, we decided to answer the call for the creation of collaborative art on Airbnbs, because we’re sick and tired of passing by housing that serves above all to enrich shitty fucking landlords rather than house our neighbors. We will never any longer ignore these new buildings destined only for short-term rentals, while we struggle to put a roof over our heads.

According to the platform, the building we redecorated belongs to the Airbnb host “Carli”, who claims to live in Vancouver and uses the same license number for 24 units. Still, beyond the legal issues, this situation sheds light on the persistent control of a minority over our housing and our (historically) popular neighborhoods, denying tenants their fundamental right to the city.

Fuck Airbnb, fuck landlords, and long live alternative decoration!

New Sabotage Against Northvolt – No Capitalist is Safe

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Mar 082024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

This week marked the return of migratory birds to the Montérégie region and the start of nesting season for several species. The Northvolt worksite is now racing against the clock to fill in as many wetlands as possible by March 10, before being prevented from doing so by federal regulations protecting migratory birds. While deforestation work has been completed on the Saint-Basile-le-Grand side (8700 trees cut down), similar work is now underway in the eastern part of the land owned by McMasterville. This section contains the last remaining intact woodland, perhaps preserved from felling by the repeated spiking that took place there.

To stop the destruction of natural habitats, activists have targeted the Michaudville group’s Mont-St-Hilaire quarry, which to date has been responsible for filling in over ten hectares of marshland essential to the survival of vulnerable species such as the least bittern, the spiny softshell turtle and the eastern red bat. As a result of land artificialisation and urban sprawl, only 5% of wetlands remain in the watershed today. Not only will this industrial project do nothing to decarbonize our economy (as our ministers claim), it will also be carried out at the expense of local biodiversity. Let’s not forget that the ecological crisis is not just a climate crisis, but also an equally threatening biodiversity crisis. It’s thanks to our relationships with other species that we live, eat and breathe. We are entirely dependent on these ecosystems.

At the beginning of the week, around a hundred studded devices were spread along the road leading to the quarry to target the trucks transporting the earth and gravel used for backfilling. Over the past few weeks, more than a hundred return trips have been made daily, with a truck passing every 3 minutes. Any action that disrupts traffic and obstructs the only access road to the quarry will cause financial losses and affect the profitability of the project. Every hour of work lost is a victory for Northvolt’s opponents.

The Northvolt project will never be green. With the battery industry, the CAQ government is taking advantage of climate change to do business. While the government is currently injecting billions of dollars to save the automotive industry, these investments force us to ensure, for decades to come, the growth of an economic sector just as destructive as the fossil fuel economy. The massive electrification of transport and the car-centric model require the multiplication of mines in the Global South and on First Nations territory. Everywhere, farmland, waterways and the populations that depend on them will be poisoned by toxic waste. Entire forests will be laid waste, mountains torn open. The ecological crisis is insoluble under capitalism: our only way out is through mutual aid, the creation of resilient communities and degrowth.

To the companies that work with Northvolt: no one is safe!

Let’s Attack Northvolt, Always, Everywhere

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Feb 282024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Anarchists again attacked the capitalist machine of destruction at the Northvolt site. Steel spikes were placed on the various paths used by the machinery. In addition, new nails were put into trees, this time without identifying them, to maximize the potential for destruction on the ecocidal machinery. The people who did the action are not afraid of getting caught. Even if they did, they would ask to be judged by their peers. By the spiny softshell turtles, little bitterns and copper redhorses. By all the species that die because the destruction of the planet is profitable as hell.

Indeed, to maintain capitalist economic growth, it takes bigger and bigger pitiful suburban bungalows and bigger and bigger cars. Meanwhile, we close our eyes and let ourselves be lulled by the nursery rhymes of capitalists who claim that electric cars reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the hypocritical pretext of environmental protection, the State and its friends of industry are attempting a desperate rescue of the automobile industry. For it to survive after 2035, the time when the feds will ban the sale of gas cars, they are replacing gas cars with electric cars. Governments then manage to reduce the price of electric cars, through direct and indirect subsidies, so that they remain accessible to the middle class. In short, the battery sector is the plundering of green funds by governments to finance economic growth, to allow the automobile industry to survive the climate changes it has caused. The development of the battery sector is so that we continue to live in noisy, unpleasant, dangerous cities, where city centers have been transformed into highways and parking lots. Anarchists want no part of this world, and that’s why they wanted to grind an extra shovelful of sand into its gears.

And we must remember that it is only in the city that the electric car can claim to be green. All around, there are mines, always on indigenous lands, all over the world. It’s the toxic Rouyn-Noranda refinery. It’s the extensions of ports along the St. Lawrence River. From Africa to South America, it’s executions of trade unionists and defenders of nature carried out in the name of Canadian mining companies. By defending nature here, we do not risk death. Using our privileges to defend the most vulnerable means taking action here. This is a problem caused by white people, and it’s about time we took responsibility.

It was a sad time to take action. At the Northvolt site, barely a few trees remain, including those that were identified as having been the target of spiking last time. This shows that direct action works. Indeed, these nails have probably done more for the protection of biodiversity than COP15, and the whole string of other COPs. We clearly see in action the ridiculous compensation mechanisms for biodiversity: on the one hand, mass deforestation, while in 4-5-6 years, or when they have time, they’ll plant a monoculture of black spruce on 20 hectares, an army of small trees in rows that will be cut down – enough to make toilet paper barely strong enough to wipe yourself with — don’t ask why your fingers go right through it. On the one hand, backfilling wetlands, while in 4-5-6 years, or when they have time, they’ll dig a hole in a patch of sand and put two or three fish and algae there, and give themselves a pat on the back. They’ll create a pond somewhere else for the animals that have already been lost. Dead animals in a puddle are a soup at best and can never compensate for a living ecosystem. And that is if there is actually compensation, because it is the first thing that will be cut if profitability is threatened.

The fight against Northvolt has only just begun. There are still 2 years left before the plant enters service. The profit margins will not be extravagant. Security, public relations and crisis management costs are already starting to pile up. Already, the company’s image is seriously damaged, and it’s a safe bet that investors will become disillusioned. There are still 2 years left to fight, and the enemy is vulnerable. We can still enter the property like a sieve: they cannot protect over a square kilometer with some rusty fences and a stationary security guard playing 2048 and sleeping in his car. Subcontractors risk reconsidering their relationships given the dangers involved. We must not let them go. The Northvolt site had been ransacked for the CIL factory, but nature took back its rights. Let’s continue the fight until life returns.

Devil’s Night Against Landlords

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Nov 172023
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Devil’s night is traditionally a time of mischief and subversive activity, striking fear into the forces of order. On this night, the weekend before Halloween, we took the form of mischievous creatures and decided to haunt the Upper Westmount mansion of the real estate boss Stephen Shiller. Stephen is one half of Shiller Lavy, and his son Brandon Shiller runs Hillpark Capital. These firms are responsible for renovicting and pricing out many tenants in the Montreal area in the past decade, putting hundreds of people out on the street.

The action was simple, any trickster could do it: we inserted a garden hose left outside into the mail slot of the front door and turned on the water, before disappearing into the night.

We summon others in the fight against Bill 31 to join the incantations of anti-landlord discourse with nocturnal rituals of anti-landlord action.

While we targeted Stephen Shiller for being an especially horrific landlord, we recognize authority must be washed away wherever it appears.

– some anarchist ghouls

New ‘Anarchist Union Journal’ in USA and Canada

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Sep 162023
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Good news!

Some USA and Canada anarcho-syndicalists are working together on an online and paper journal project called :

Anarchist Union Journal.

In the USA, some of us are part of the propaganda group called Workers Solidarity Alliance, some are not. In Canada, some are part of the new Quebec ‘Friends of the IWA’ circle.

We are joining together in this project to facilitate the creation of an International Workers Association union federation in both Canada and USA.

Want to learn more about us? See the text just below!

Please subscribe to our social media accounts and visit our website.

http://anarchistunionjournal.org/

https://www.tiktok.com/@anarchistunionjournal

https://www.facebook.com/AnarchistUnionJournal

https://twitter.com/AUJ_official

https://kolektiva.social/@AnarchistUnionJournal

https://www.instagram.com/anarchistunionjournal/

Cheers!


About us Anarchist Union Journal is a free Canadian/USA anarcho-syndicalist online and paper aperiodical publication.

How we are organized? We have two types of online meetings : 1) larger meetings that happen twice a year; and 2) the coordinating committee meetings that happen every two weeks or so. Coordinating committee participants are there voluntarily and need to have a certain level of involvement.

Who can participate to the journal? There are no dues, nor fees to participate, there is no membership. Participation is open to whoever agrees with the journal’s goals or is interested in learning more about them with some help. We don’t favor voting, we prefer consensus, which means discussion until an agreement is reached.

Aim of the journal The journal’s goal is to build an anarchist union movement by spreading working-class news in USA and Canada. We work to facilitate, in both countries, the creation of free unions that would follow the principles of the International Workers Association (IWA) and affiliate to it.

What are the IWA principles? Following the IWA principles means creating a working-class federation of community and workplace unions that organises direct actions against capitalism and the State while building the autonomy and empowerment of the working-class and oppressed. IWA unions also fight against all political parties, electoralism and integration in the State’s industrial relation structures. They also have a clear goal of breaking away with established oppressions of the State and capitalism and therefore actively educate people in favor of communist anarchism as a solution for collective emancipation.

What can be published in the journal? We love short news about struggles. We also appreciate your individual or collective reflections and experiences. Having live debate is an essential part of a movement! Of course, theoretical texts are welcomed. We’ll however try not to publish too much at the same time. You’re in an IWA union somewhere else in the world? Please keep us updated about your activities and campaigns! Sure we accept a variety of content, but priority will be given to content that follows the IWA principles.

Production of the journal You can contribute with texts of around 500-1000 words. Please attach your article with at least one image (if copyrighted, please get the artist’s autorisation to use their creation!). Here are the accepted file formats for the text: .doc/.docx /.odt/.rtf/ or even pdf. Please send us your article and image in separated files by email at anarchistunionjournal@riseup.net

Next publication The first publication deadline is late September 2023. Shipping of paper copies will be as soon as possible after the online journal is published on the web site.

Can I subscribe to paper copies? You can ask for free paper copies of the journal. Just contact us at our email address: anarchistunionjournal@riseup.net. The shipping of paper copies will always be done as soon as possible after the online journal will be published on the website.

Can a local place become a dropping point? All new request for dropping points can be addressed to us by email. All dropping points will be cited on the website.

Already interested in participating in an anarchist union? Depending on where you’re located, please contact the nearest group below -Cercle des ami.e.s de l’AIT – Québec : IWA-AIT_quebec@riseup.net

How to stay updated? You can follow us on our social media accounts! You can also subscribe on our web site to an email news letter. There’s also an RSS if you have a feed aggregator. (but what is an RSS feed? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS)

Upcoming online events! We’ll have an opened online meeting for our first publication! Contact us by email of with any of our social media in order to join the meeting!

Montreal 2023 Rent Strike, Why and How

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Aug 162023
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

To pledge to join the strike, fill out this quick form. 5,000 pledges are needed. More information, including sample letters, graphics, pdfs, and events, will be posted here. To support the strike, hang a banner from your balcony. An upcoming event, a BBQ at Parc Lafontaine (corner of Panet/Sherbrooke), 12pm, this Saturday (Aug 19) will go over the following points in detail. For questions about the strike, email slam.matu@protonmail.com. 

On August, 2nd the Montreal Autonomous Tenants’ Union released a call for a rent strike across the city. The strike is against the government’s new Bill 31, against rent hikes, and for housing for all. The call included a pledge form with a required 5,000 pledges from tenants across the city to join the strike before the strike could officially begin.

To some, a call for a rent strike of 5,000 tenants across Montreal may seem ambitious and risky. The purpose of this text is to respond to legal and political concerns. We hope that this text helps supporters and likely allies better understand the strike and find ways to help.

Hundreds of tenants are currently on rent strike across Ontario. In the past six years, rent strikes have exploded from Los Angeles, to Parkdale, to New York, and all across North America during COVID-19. The strikes have proven that withholding rent is our most effective weapon as tenants against the real estate industry. A general rent strike in Montreal would be no exception in its ability to help ignite a social movement and threaten the interests of government and landlords.

Consequently, we think there is broad agreement that if we can pull a strike of this scale off and win, that would be good. We think most disagreement comes from whether this is possible or safe for tenants.

This is a long text. It is meant to be as comprehensive as possible at this moment. It can be scrolled through depending on the questions that interest you. The text is probably missing answers to questions that we have overlooked, or lacks clarity in sections. Please send over thoughts and recommendations for our work moving forward. For a much shorter summary, we recommend our instagram primer on the strike.

Whether a strike is possible or safe boils down to questions about the integrity and seriousness of our plans for the strike, the historic precedents of this kind of rent strike, and the risk of eviction for tenants.

A Summary of the Plan to go on Rent Strike

This plan describes how 5,000+ people could go on rent strike in Montreal for and no one get evicted. A rent strike of this magnitude would be a serious escalation in tenant power, create the basis for future rent strikes in the city, and offer the best chance at beating Bill 31 (a social democratic analysis of the bill can be found here) and rapidly rising rents.

Key parts: This rent strike has four core components 1) an online pledge to go on rent strike 2) banners on balconies against Bill 31 and for a rent strike 3) regular strike meetings of people who have filled out the pledge and the election of strike captains for each neighbourhood in Montreal 4) regular popular education events, leaflets, and posters on how to rent strike safely and historic precedents, and 5) a strike fund to support tenants on strike.

The online pledge is a form (like a Google form but a cryptform), that people sign to pledge to go on rent strike if 5,000 other people sign the pledge. If less than 5,000 people sign, there will be no rent strike. The pledge collects contact information, including phone number and email, as well as neighbourhood. Once someone pledges the union contacts them to get them involved in activities in preparation for a strike.

The banner on balconies (or signs on windows) would be a process of people putting banners on their balconies “Against Bill 31 / For a general rent strike” This is a good mobilizational tactic overall against Bill 31, and would encourage people to learn about the rent strike. Flyering outside metro stations, tabling, social media, and banner making events, are being used to encourage people to hang banners from their balcony or put signs in their windows.  

Strike meetings would be meetings of people have filled out the pledge. We plan to announce our first strike meeting of people who have filled out the pledge soon. They will occur regularly come September, with a major strike assembly once 1,000 pledges are received, and another major assembly once 4,000 is reached. Strike meetings would be used to coordinate 1) flyering 2) tabling & banner dropping 3) social media sharing 4) workshops on rent striking 5) postering 6) neighbourhood, street, and building organizing to discuss Bill 31 and the increasing cost of rent 7) when the strike is closer, reconfirmation with people who’ve signed the pledge form that they are still interested in going on rent strike through a phone call campaign. Strike captains and committees for each Montreal neighbourhood will be organized at these assemblies. Once the strike starts the strike meetings would be responsible for coordinating mutual aid among strikers, raising strike funds to pay interest and court costs, and targeting landlords and tribunals trying to evict tenants.    

Popular education forms will be help regularly to inform people about the strike in greater detail, answer popular questions, and share information about future events. 

A Strike fund which we plan to release soon will be designed to support tenants who are on strike facing eviction proceedings. It will also be used to assist tenants facing harassment or antagonism from their landlord because they are strike supporters before and during the strike. 

But what if I’m the only tenant under my landlord on rent strike? Even with 5,000 people on rent strike, there will be some tenants under landlords without neighbours on strike. The purpose of the strike meetings would be to coordinate building organizing and street organizing in the case of duplexes and triplexes so that people can draw in their neighbours. It is much easier to convince neighbours to withhold rent if they know it is a city-wide movement and if hundreds of people have banners on their balconies against Bill 31. Even if you are alone, rent strikes, including during COVID, have often had individual tenants joining thousands of others on strike without  their neighbours necessarily being involved. The legal protections remain the same (as long as you pay rent before a judge can give a decision, it is much harder to evict you, especially for the first month). With 5,000 and more people on rent strike, it would also clog the tribunal system significantly. It might take a few months before a hearing. Landlords would also be afraid to file for eviction. If they did, the strike committee would hear about it and organize actions against any landlord who tries to evict during the rent strike. Actions could also be organized at the TAL to condemn the eviction process. If the worst does come, which we doubt it would, the strike committee would have funds to help pay for moving costs, legal fees, and possibly subsidize some rent. 

What if people don’t actually go on rent strike but have pledged to? This is subject to continued discussion but one important thing would be a calling campaign. If 5,000 pledges is reached, we will call a general assembly to prepare for the strike. Strikers will then coordinate a call campaign to confirm with people before if they’re still interested in a rent strike now that it is a real possibility. So long as 5,000 people are still ready and willing, the rent strike will move forward at an appropriate 1st of the following month (so long as there is ample time to prepare). It would be expected that many more people may join the rent strike if it goes on into a second month.

The History of Rent Strikes and Going Up Against Power “Alone”

The victory of Toronto’s 2017 rent strike of 300 tenants against MetCap Living has set an important example for how rent strikes can achieve much more than our court system will give. Rent strikes continue to unfold in Toronto, with another 300 tenants on rent strikes reported in May of this year. With other recent examples in cities like Los Angeles, it is inarguable that rent strikes are our best chance at collectively winning major concessions.

The concern here is that the rent strike we are proposing would cover a variety of different landlords. Using our model, even if we are encouraging and assisting building organizing, it is very possible that some tenants will be the only tenant on strike against their specific landlord. However, this is not uncommon in the history of successful rent strikes. 

In fact, studying the history of notable rent strikes suggests that a mass of tenants striking against a single common landlord as in Parkdale is an exception. Rent strikes have often been generalized social movements against a variety of landlords. Crimethinc’s short history of rent strikes is available here

COVID-19 is a perfect example of thousands of tenants in different cities going on spontaneous rent strike. Our union has several examples of Montreal tenants solo-ing rent strikes and succeeding during the pandemic (and, in fact, several tenants who have solo-ed rent strikes after the heat of the pandemic, without a broader context of organizing, and won). In the US, for instance, a landlord association estimated 31 percent of tenants went on rent strike for the month of March 2020. Parkdale Organize, which organized Toronto’s 2017 strike, also organized similar multi-landlord strikes. Keep Your Rent Toronto estimated 100,000 people used their forms to notify their landlord of their intention to withhold rent. These strikes succeeded in protecting tenants from having to pay during the heat of the pandemic, even in cities without eviction moratoriums. Strikers used systems of mutual aid, and mobbed court hearings of tenants from different buildings. These strikes had unity between strikers, despite not having the same landlord. This is to be expected when thousands of people are in the same rent-strike boat together. 

Other examples come from strikes like Harlem’s 1963 rent strikes, the 1970s Italian auto-reduction movement, Barcelona’s rent strike in 1931, and Ireland’s land wars. In Harlem, for instance, tenants across over 50 buildings of dilapidated housing went on rent strike. One major victory came in the form of many tenants’ rent being temporarily set at $1/month. During Barcelona’s rent strike, tenants would blockade streets to prevent evictions, and break tenants back into their housing, making use of neighbourhood and worker committees.

In New York, eviction defence is currently a popular tool that has been used to stop the eviction of tenants. The most well-known examples are of tenants who have resisted through physical blockades outside of the tenants’ apartment. The blockades are defended by eviction defence networks, not usually other tenants of the same landlord. Although, much more illegal and less legally grey than rent strikes, this strategy of eviction defence has had huge success in New York and elsewhere.
 
In the worker and tenant sphere, wildcat strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, refusals of unsafe work, and walkouts, and even strikes such as the Oakland 2011 general strike, have included people spontaneously and even lone-worker striking against specific or different employers or schools with the protection of a broader union or mass movement. In Montreal, you can visit the IWW if your employer is stealing your wages. The IWW can then mobilize their membership to call your employer. The union is leveraging the collective support of workers from a variety of workplaces to individual people who are otherwise alone in front of their boss. They have had a lot of success.

The benefit of our current moment is that, unlike during COVID-19, we have a few more months and weeks to plan the rent strike. We can organize neighbourhood committees to coordinate mutual aid and eviction defence. We can offer more escalation. We can also meet in person, and are more agile in our capacity to do street actions. Mass and neighbourhood meetings of everyone participating in the rent strike would actually be possible this time.

Legal Protections 

It is not as though we are without legal protections while on rent strike. One protection that Quebec tenants have under Article 1883 of the Civil Code is exactly similar to the protection relied on by tenants who went on strike in Toronto in 2017. If a tenant had eviction proceedings opened against them, as long as they pay their rent back before a judge can render a decision they can avoid eviction. One tactic is to pay back all the outstanding rent on your court date. Other people get a non-profit or lawyer to hold the money in trust and to pay it on this date. 

There are limitations to this legal strategy. We understand that frequent delay, if it causes serious damage to the owner, may constitute a legal reason which justifies the eviction of a tenant. For this reason it may be ideal to only do a rent strike for one month. This will be a decision of the strike assembly. We are making sure tenants and our members are familiar with this article. 

Legal scholars, most notably Seema Shafei, have also argued for the right to rent strike as being incorporated within our constitutional right to strike or similar associational protections. Striking at work, for instance, is recognized as constitutionally protected.

Practical Protections

Above the legal protections, is the practical questions that will face a landlord if they try to evict a tenant on rent strike. If 5,000 people are on rent strike, able to coordinate and organize between one another, attempting to evict a tenant could be… well, difficult. If neighbourhood strike captains and the core strike committee is sufficiently organized, the public would become familiar with any landlord trying to evict a rent striking tenant. We would leverage the power of this mass to make it clear to each and every landlord that they should wait the strike out, instead of applying for eviction. A variety of street and collective actions have been used by SLAM to pressure landlords, and have had major success with much smaller groups. 

Another practical protection is the flooding of the tribunals. Basically, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the tribunals to quickly process 5,000 eviction requests. The hearings would take a lot longer to roll around than expected.

Just as during COVID-19, the landlord will also know that they can expect the rent back eventually. They know that their tenant otherwise makes their rent payments. Unlike the usual situation of eviction, the failure to pay rent is not financial but political. While there are many landlords who would love to evict their tenants for any reason, several landlords may keep a tenant knowing that they will pay their rent more regularly once the rent strike storm has rolled over. 

Finally, while we have focused on the case of a tenant who is on rent strike without their neighbours, one of our principal efforts will be spreading rent strikes in buildings with willing tenants. Once one tenant in a building has pledged to go on rent strike, it is a lot easier to convince others. This is possible through the Montreal tenants’ union usual strategy of building and street organizing (organizing common meetings, door-knockings, one-on-ones), and because there will be more  optimism around rent striking if you know 5,000 other people, and at least one neighbour are on rent strike. Banners on balconies, street demos, and news coverage, would also inspire increased confidence. If several tenants in a building are on rent strike, the logic of “But I can’t possibly evict all of them at once!” (to quote a landlord during the COVID-19 strikes) applies to a landlord.

Low Participation

There is the possibility of low participation in the rent strike. This is really only a concern for the organizers of the strike, rather than the sympathizers. If 5,000 tenants do not pledge to go on strike, then there simply would be no strike. We would conduct a phone and text message campaign if 5,000 is reached to also confirm that there is continued interest and the 5,000 pledges is not some phantom figure. However, even if 5,000 strikers is not reached, the popular education, flyering, information sharing, the threat of a potential strike to the government, will not disappear. In fact, if 5,000 strikers is not reached, we will still have done a job of spreading knowledge and comfort with tactics of resistance. While failing to get a strike vote can be demoralizing, they can also be excellent opportunities for spreading popular education and training new organizers. While we do not like elected officials, launching a campaign that is likely to not succeed entirely has been used with success by political parties to gradually build a base. But again, success or failure at hitting 5,000 pledges, this is a concern for the organizers, not other tenants. 

Once 5,000 people have both pledged and confirmed their interest in a rent strike, if the strike lasts longer than a month (a decision up to neighbourhood committees and the strikers’ assembly), we can certainly expect more tenants’ to join. Every strike we are familiar with significantly increased their numbers in their second month of striking. 

But Still, is a Rent Strike Risky?

There are certainly risks with going on rent strike. It is imaginable that the tactics above don’t work, that government repression is too strong against the strike, that the legal protections in place fall through, and several if not several dozen people are evicted. It is possible that relationships of tenants with their landlords take a turn for the worst, or that landlords act outside the bounds of legality or manipulate their legal privileges in response. These are possibilities. We have highlighted above many reasons why we think these possibilities can be mitigated. However, what is probable, going forward… actually, what is almost certain… is that without an organized tenant movement taking risks, using bold tactics, Montreal will be the next Toronto and Vancouver. Our rents will outpace our incomes, the elderly and poor will be harassed and evicted from their units. Homelessness will continue to increase. In ten years, our current rents will seem like a pipe dream. This is all to say, we are balancing competing risks: the risk of bold action versus the risk of inaction. Both could mean eviction, gentrification, poverty, and displacement. For the reasons we highlighted above, we believe taking our chance can lead to huge reward. We can seriously mitigate the risks. It is possible, in fact precedented, that 5,000 people go on rent strike and no one is evicted. The risks we are taking are for a better world and to avoid the risks of a worse one.

People involved in the strike are not professionals. That should be clear. The union has long-time organizers from different milieus. However, they don’t accept the responsibility of housing professionals. Their goal is to offer a tactic to the tenants’ movement: the rent strike. If it is accepted by tenants in the city, we will try our hardest using some of the tactics and goalposts above. But, whatever is done will be up to the tenants involved. The union will help organize the assemblies, popular education, and actions. As in every uprising, though, the union won’t be responsible for every success or mistake made along the way. During the 2012 student uprising in Quebec, over 3,000 people were arrested, people faced disciplinary measures from their university, serious injuries were suffered, and over 400 people faced criminal charges. We can’t say that the 2012 strike organizers were responsible for this repression. We can’t even say that it was “worth it.” All we can say is that sometimes people stand up, accept the risks or ignore them. These are decisions made by mature people. They are risks necessary to social progress that every social movement takes. 

Conclusion

Thank you for reading through the proposal for a 2023 Montreal general rent strike. Here are ways the tenant union suggests in which you can support the work towards a strike:

You can join our tenants’ union in calling for your strike and add your name to the organizations encouraging a Montreal rent strike. To do so, email us at: slam.matu@protonmail.com

Easiest: You can share our Facebook events, especially the upcoming event on “Why & How” to go on rent strike against Bill 31 (Saturday, Aug 19th, 12pm to 2pm). At the moment, our Facebook game could use a boost.  

You can join us at our upcoming event on “Why & How” to go on rent strike against Bill 31. It will be at Parc Lafontaine, Saturday, August 19th, from 12pm to 2pm at the corner of Sherbrooke/Panet. There will be a BBQ!

You can hang a banner from your balcony: We have extra banners, email slam.matu@protonmail.com to get your hands on one. 

You can personally sign the pledge.

Share your events with us and we will share them among our members and strikers and invite them to join. We hope to show up as contingents to the upcoming mobilizations against Bill 31. 

The above text is not an official SLAM publication. It is a re-editted letter received by many radical organizations explaining the strike.

From Embers: Drag Defence in Quebec

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Jul 222023
 

From From Embers

Talking with Louve Rose from P!nk Bloc Montreal about Quebec’s transphobic far right, drag defence, and building a revolutionary anti-capitalist queer organization for both community self-defence and to intervene against gay assimilationism.

Links

P!nk Bloc MTL – Instagram, Facebook, Linktree

August 12 Rad Pride (Facebook Event)

Montreal Antifasciste

MAF reportback from April 12 drag defence

From Embers – Anti-Fascism in Quebec

Revolutionary Trans Politics and the Three Way Fight

Submedia: Pride and Prejudice

Music

The Muslims – Fuck the Cistem

Action Against Luxury MTL Real Estate Agency

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Jul 122023
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

July 1st is moving day in Montreal. It’s always chaotic, but with the threat of Bill 31 rent reforms the situation may become far worse.

We are told there is a housing crisis, a term used to avoid naming those responsible. Why is housing scarce, unsafe, expensive, and precarious in Montreal?

  • Greedy landlords who renovict, charge damage deposits and “finder’s fees” to maximise profits.
  • To avoid rental laws and increase profit landlords convert housing into short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb). This caused several deaths in the spring.
  • New housing is built for investors, not residents. While low-income housing is “impossible”, dozens of towers with luxury housing are built, units sold to investors just to sit empty and appreciate in value.

Over 500 people are newly homeless since moving day. The eviction of people living in tents under the Ville-Marie expressway is imminent. They build skyscrapers and pander to rich urbanite investors while people sleep rough. Bill 31 is part of this plan. The landlord lobby, developers, property managers and real estate agencies profit from a Montreal where you must pay up or get out. The powers that be want a city made for the rich – high rent, expensive food, yuppie gentrification – the rich get richer.

We say fuck a housing crisis, housing is everywhere. Luxury MTL, also known as Montria Real Estate, is part of the problem. Luxury development creates a world for the rich. We will attack it. Their windows are just the beginning.

Solidarity with rent strikers in Toronto. Squat the world!