Quebec students have been on strike and protesting against tuition fee increases for more than three months. Classes are suspended and every night the unrest seems to be paralyzing Montreal.
Now we've learned that a particularly strong-minded group is preparing to do anything and everything to disturb or even force the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix (June 8-10) and all the related activities downtown. These students see it as a perfect opportunity to make their plea in front of hundreds of journalists and the millions of spectators and readers they serve across the globe.
Well, sure, but what the heck does Formula 1 have to do with student rights?
I was floored when I read that this radical group planned ''a weekend of commotion and disruption to force the cancellation of the F1 Grand Prix and all the jetset and hoopla embodying sexist, elitist, capitalist and non-environmental values that need to be crushed'' (liberal translation).
Sexist? That couldn't be more inaccurate. I guess those people have never attended a racing event in their short lifetime, let alone a Grand Prix. The notorious ''pit babes,'' girls whose only purpose is to please the male crowd, are basically a thing of the past. Women are now working as team managers, marketing and communication directors, engineers, technicians, mechanics, and various other key positions. And don't you dare call them ''babes!''
Non-environmental? Here's a fact for you: Through a new FIA program, Formula 1 has been carbon neutral for a decade. That's right! And starting in 2014, F1 cars will be powered by small-displacement turbocharged hybrid systems that can occasionally run on electricity.
What's more, a full grid with 22 ultra-efficient cars produce fewer GHG emissions than a single charter bus used by protesters.
Capitalist? Well, all I will say here is that each F1 team directly employs more than 300 people while keeping thousands of workers, subcontractors and suppliers busy. The Canadian Grand Prix boosts the local economy by at least $75 million, which is more than welcome in these tough times. Plus, most of it is fresh cash from outside visitors.
Of course, Formula 1 is a big-spending world, but I've never heard of a college graduate telling his first employer: ''I don't want to be paid. I prefer to work for free, because I don't like your way of doing business.'' How ridiculous does that sound?
So, my suggestion to protestors is, think long and hard about all the consequences before deciding to disrupt the Grand Prix.