Student protesters vow to carry on in Canada

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With race organizers having already canceled the Canadian Grand Prix’s “open door” event, students protesting increased college tuition are vowing to keep on keeping on.

CLASSE co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said Sunday,  “We’re not going to stop protesting because Montreal’s having a car race.” CLASSE is an umbrella organization that, according to the Montreal Gazette — from which the quote comes — is the most radical of three student groups.

At the same time, Montral Mayor Gérald Tremblay has said his city would do what it needed to in order to ensure the safety of racing fans and protesters.

At this point, the story is starting to move away from our narrow Formula 1 interest and toward a broader one: the students are threatening to continue their protests into tourist season. It sounds like the economic ramifications from that (and it will be interesting to see whether there are significant ones for the race, itself) are really where the key powder kegs now exist.

It’s ironic, of course, right? If student protests manage to disrupt tourism activities, that means that revenues will drop, and tax collection will drop, and while I’m not as up on my Canadian government as I am my California variety, I suspect that that drop will only go to put more pressure on public funding of universities.

Now, I know that makes me sound entirely like “the man,” and I’ll admit that between my Marxist youth in my early 20s until my more sober and moderate vision of the world in my early 40s (heaven help me!), I’ve learned the benefit of compromise. But before anyone can get in a “compromise state of mind,” some steam needs to get blown off — unfortunately for F1 fans in Canada, that steam is clouding the view of this weekend’s race.

Here’s my — I hope — substantive thought for you: First there was Bahrain (twice) and now Canada. F1 suddenly seems to be an increasingly popular venue for protests; I think we all understand why, with the glitz and all the press coverage that comes with a grand prix. But does anyone think this will grow and become a more permanent problem? Could F1 become kind of like a roving G8 summit that always brings protesters out?

And if that were to happen, what might be the ramifications in terms of sponsors, attendance and where the grand prixs are held?

Photo via the Montreal Gazette.

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