By now you are probably all at least a little aware of what is going in Québec; what started out in February as a familiar story of student protest (Québec has a consistent history of student protest and low tuition– coincidence?) has turned into a crisis in the province (that is playing out mainly in the Montreal area).
Uneven media coverage of the event might have you wondering what the students are really protesting about in the first place (initially, against a 75% increase in tuition over 5 years, but has now turned into an 82% increase over 7) and why they have rejected the offers that the government has made (namely because the government has failed to reconsider the increase, and has offered alternatives that either do not address students’ main concerns, or do so through inequitable means). Don’t hesitate to ask me, I’ll do my best at shedding light on the situation from my understanding of the situation, and my biased perspective of course.
As a result of the escalating tensions, Premier Jean Charest and his liberal government have implemented emergency legislation through Bill 78, an article in the Globe and Mail (of all papers) refers to it in the following quote, “one scholar described as the worst attack on Canadian freedom since the War Measures Act” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/quebecs-emergency-law-blasted-by-critics/article2437890/). You can read up on it, but basically the bill comes down hard on protestors in various ways by suspending the semester that they were on strike from (thereby effectively violating their right to strike), increasing fines for protesting illegally, tightening regulations around organizing marches (having to inform the police 8 hours ahead of time for any meeting of 50 people or more), and holding student associations financially responsible for protests, banning the wearing of masks, etc. Though Charest’s objective might have been to make an appeal for calm, it seems that rather, he has fuelled protestors’ anger towards a government that has been unwilling to take students seriously since the very beginning of the conflict.
On Tuesday, a protest will be held starting at 4pm in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery for those who want to express their solidarity with Québec protestors. If you want to join me, let me know. http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/krystalline-kraus/2012/05/activist-communiqué-rally-solidarity-quebec-students-–-vanc
Yours in ideas, friendship and finally doing something about this in Vancouver,