QPIRG Within the Movement


QPIRG McGill Sticker, Retrieved March 6, 2014 from QPIRG McGill, 3647 University St, 3rd Floor, Montreal:Quebec.

The anti-colonialist movement is very broad and most people have heard of the major groups like Greenpeace and Amnesty International. There are however, many smaller and more localized social justice groups interested in anti-colonialism. While the “American PIRGs are organized on a state level with small campus organizing offices and a main office usually in the state capital. This structure allows the PIRG to lobby for progressive legislative change, intervene in administrative hearings or take court action. Such a focus requires a large staff of professionals including lawyers, scientists, researchers and writers.”[1]

The Canadian PIRGs differentiate themselves from their American counterparts within the “Canadian context (of) its parliamentary system and less accessible court system”.
[2] It is hard to truly differentiate yourself as a social justice movement when there are so many out there including the very high-profile ones.[3] QPIRG suffers from this problem when looking at how they fit into the historical context of the anti-colonialist movement. Within the anti-colonialist movement, there are many different issues to be focused on and is therefore, not a homogenous ideological group.[4] QPIRG has taken a stance against colonialism in general but more specifically they have related it to issues such as indigenous people’s rights, immigrant labour, supporting unions and supporting the anti-Israel Apartheid movement. QPIRG has aligned itself with groups like Student-Worker Solidarity (SWS), which have a more narrow focus on these issues. By joining other groups, QPIRG is able to get more recognition and is able to take part in a broader range of issues.

QPIRG is of the position that Canada continues to be a colonialist country since all non-Indigenous people here migrated to Canada and are therefore immigrants as well.[5] They note that since the 1960s there has been an increase in immigrants who are people of colour, or are from lesser developed countries and are poor and since “poverty and unrest in colonized countries (often instigated by the US military) continues to force people to migrate, whether they come as official refugees or immigrants.”[6]

[1] Cameron, Peter and Karen Farbridge. “PIRG Power”. Alternatives Journal 24.3 (1998): 22.

[2] Cameron, Peter and Karen Farbridge. “PIRG Power”, 23.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Smith. Ekuwa. Does A Rising Tide Lift All Boats?: The Labour Market Experiences and Incomes of Recent Immigrants, 1995-1998. Ottawa, ON: Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development (2002), 76.

[5] Student-Worker Solidarity’s Workshop on Immigrant Labour, November 1999, File: 2007-0007.01.33, QPIRG Fonds, McGill University Archives, 2.

[6] Global Cooperation Network of Quebec-PIRG. Hungry for Justice: The Montreal Guide to the Game of Food and Socially Responsible Food Choices: A Collective Endeavour. Montreal, QC: Potluck Publishing (1993), 33.

Historical Context
QPIRG Within the Movement