Quebec ‘student’ protests 2012 and the aftermath

Written by  //  August 9, 2014  //  Beryl Wajsman, David/Terry Jones, Education, Québec  //  1 Comment

Couillard has no plans for CEGEP reform
Premier says debate is healthy, Quebec’s colleges are staying put
But the youth stuck to their guns, narrowly endorsing the plan even if it appears to be going nowhere as a result of the premier’s comments.
Still, Couillard was not opposed to all the youth reforms noting he favours a review of some CEGEP programs to better tune them to the needs of the workplace as long as employment does not become the sole goal of the education system. … Under the proposal adopted, CEGEPs would become technical schools.
Students pursuing other academic disciplines would have to complete an extra year of high school and university and completely skip the CEGEP stage.
3 April
Students flex protest muscles once again
(Montreal Gazette) Now, the person these same students helped get elected in Charest’s place is in their line of fire — along with most other politicians — and the students want so much more.
Posters made by the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) in preparation for the event depicted Pauline Marois, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau and Higher Education Minister Pierre Duchesne with red eyes under the slogan “Traîtres chez nous,” — Traitors in our midst — a play on Maîtres chez nous, one of the PQ’s slogans. About 60,000 students went on strike Thursday, ASSÉ spokesperson Justin Arcand told the crowd.
But Marois’s star candidate, former Québécor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau, was also jeered and sneered at by this anti-capitalist crowd, as were Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard and Coalition Avenir Québec’s François Legault.
For students carrying placards demanding more social housing, lower electricity costs, less surveillance, no pipelines or oil exploration, and an end to cuts in social services, all three leaders were one and the same.
Several groups of protesters carried banners to discourage students from voting. “There is no electoral solution to the social question,” read one banner. “We don’t vote, we fight.”
But others vowed they would make their vote count, as it did in the last election. Only this time many said they would be voting Québec Solidaire.
28 March
Student protests will hit streets again on April 3
(Montreal Gazette) It is almost exactly two years ago — March 22, 2012 — when the largest student demonstration in the province’s history brought hundreds of thousands of students into the streets. Students brought traffic to a halt and sent a message to the then-Liberal government that its planned tuition increase of $325 a year for five years was unacceptable.
The student movement eventually succeeded in helping to unseat the Jean Charest government and convincing the Parti Québécois to keep their tuition increase to a cost-of-living rate of indexation.
However, some have argued that a lower tax credit for university students introduced by the PQ has effectively been a hidden tuition increase. And Quebec’s rectors launched a campaign this month saying the province’s universities are critically underfunded, with an average of $5,000 a year less to spend per student than other universities in Canada.
Gingras said ASSÉ doesn’t support one party over another, but has noticed that when the PQ was in opposition in 2012 it was happy to talk about education, but the subject has disappeared from any election platforms.
“We just want to put higher education back on the front pages,” he said.

2013

Thoughtful commentary which all should read –
Clifton van der Linden: Quebec’s tuition summit sidesteps a generational crisis
An emphasis on the cost of post-secondary education makes for an effective rally cry, but ultimately overlooks more substantive considerations about the value of said education in the twenty-first century. Quebeckers in particular ought by now to be able to recognize a superficial concession when they see one. They should take full advantage of this opportunity to prompt a broader, national conversation about the future prosperity of Canadians. It is a conversation that is long overdue.
18 August
Quebec’s student tuition protest: Who really won the dispute?
(CBC|The Sunday Edition) The beat of helicopter propellers, the wail of sirens and the banging of pots and pans were familiar sounds during Montreal nights just over a year ago. With the noise of the Quebec student protests and the masses in the streets now a fading memory, some question whether the movement was a great show of democracy with lasting effect or simply a mass disruption.
One year later the demonstrations have evaporated, but the debate over whether anything has really changed in Quebec in the wake of Montreal’s summer of protest has not.
Who really won?
Martine Desjardins, the former president of the Féderation Étudiante Universitaire du Québec — the union that represents university students — says there’s no question about it; the students won.
The government changed, a new Parti Québecois government is in power, and the planned 75 per cent tuition hike was shelved. University tuitions fees in Québec are now indexed to the cost of living.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Kelley, Liberal MNA for the Jacques-Cartier riding on the West Island of Montreal, says the issue is far from gone.
He still defends his government’s plan to raise tuition fees because, he says, universities need more money. “Over time, the issues raised last summer will have to be raised again if we want our universities to provide the best education possible for our young people.”
18 July
Le ministère de l’Éducation a distribué des diplômes d’études secondaires avec une faute grammaticale
Après avoir étudié sans répit pendant cinq ans pour réussir leur secondaire, Andréanne et Gaëlle Graton n’en reviennent tout simplement pas: le ministère de l’Éducation vient de leur remettre un diplôme qui comporte une faute.
Grève étudiante: l’avocat de milliers de manifestants en faillite
(La Presse) Denis Poitras, qui défendait la majorité des manifestants arrêtés pendant la grève étudiante du printemps 2012, n’est plus avocat depuis mercredi matin.
Il a enregistré une faillite personnelle dans les derniers jours, ce qui le disqualifie automatiquement du titre d’avocat. Denis Poitras devait 287 000$ à Revenu Québec et ne s’était pas correctement acquitté de «ses obligations fiscales depuis le 17 septembre 1998», selon l’agence gouvernementale.
En entrevue avec La Presse, M. Poitras a dit qu’il se battrait pour regagner son droit de pratique une fois sa faillite réglée. Ce processus pourrait toutefois prendre plusieurs mois, a-t-il lui-même admis. Il ne pourra donc défendre ses clients dont le procès est imminent.
6 June
L’Université de Montréal poursuit des «vandales», dont la fille d’Amir Khadir
(La Presse) L’Université de Montréal vient d’intenter une poursuite de 100 000 dollars contre six manifestants, qu’elle accuse d’avoir joué un rôle de premier plan dans la casse survenue dans son établissement, lors d’une manifestation, le 12 avril 2012.
4 April
Une facture de 800 000 $ pour le Sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur
(Radio Canada) Cette somme comprend les deux jours de sommet, les quatre rencontres thématiques préparatoires, les quatre forums citoyens organisés par l’Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM), et la tenue de l’école d’hiver de l’INM.
Il est à noter que ces coûts n’incluent pas les frais encourus pour assurer la sécurité par le Service de police de Montréal (SPVM) et la Sûreté du Québec (SQ) lors du sommet. La Presse rapportait plus tôt cette semaine que les coûts associés au sommet s’élèvent à 712 375 $ pour le SPVM.
6 March
Quebec students return to the streets against tuition hikes
(RCI) The first nighttime tuition-fee protest in several months denounced the handling of the tuition fee increases by the Parti Québécois government.
26 February
Student protesters, police clash in Montreal streets after Marois praises peaceful process
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has declared that the unrest related to student protests is over in her province, one year and one week after it began
(National Post) Marois said the debate over tuition-fee hikes that saw demonstrations sweep Quebec was now “behind us,” as she closed out a Montreal summit on post-secondary education Tuesday.
Quebec education summit ends without consensus
(CBC) As the summit wrapped up on Tuesday, Marois said she believed the conference had a positive impact.
“I am very proud [of] the results of the summit. We had a real dialogue with all the members of the community involved in education,” she said.
Mme Marois is reaping what she sowed last spring
La manifestation tourne à la confrontation
(La Presse) La manifestation qui a eu lieu ce mardi après-midi à Montréal a tourné au vinaigre. Elle avait pris calmement son départ vers 14h45 au centre-ville, mais des affrontements ont éclaté peu après 16h, forçant l’intervention du service anti-émeute de la SQ.
25 February
Graeme Hamilton: Now that the PQ is in power, Quebec’s rabble-rousing students have lost some of their charm
Québec créera un conseil national des universités
«Un très large consensus s’est installé rapidement sur le Conseil national des universités, au point où on peut annoncer que le gouvernement va de l’avant», a conclu le ministre Duchesne.
PQ suggests $1.7B investments in university budgets
(CBC) Quebec to create council to oversee education quality, governance
The Quebec government has made three suggestions, which will be up for debate over the next two days:
— Adopting a law to create a framework for universities
— Creating a provincial council of universities
— Reviewing universities’ accountability in their budgets
Parti Quebecois government proposes tuition indexation at university summit
(Global News) The Parti Quebecois government has tabled its plan for tuition increases, a long-awaited development in a political dispute that rocked Quebec last year and was dubbed by students as the Maple Spring.
The plan involves indexing university tuition by three per cent a year — which amounts to about $70 annually. That is sharply lower than the $325 yearly hikes sought by the previous Liberal government, which then adjusted the proposed increases to $254 per year, over seven years.
21 February
McGill staff, students calling on PQ not to slash university funding
Staff and students at McGill University are calling on the Parti Québecois government not to slash $248 million from universities’ funding over the next two fiscal years.
19 February
Trudeau’s McGill Visit: Grit Hopeful Opposes Free Tuition
(HuffPost) Trudeau said the federal government should play a bigger role in education — as long as it respects provincial jurisdiction.
4 February
Chers étudiants, j’ai une solution
(La Presse) Guy Breton, le recteur de l’Université de Montréal… propose que chaque étudiant paie une part égale de ses coûts de formation, comme ça se fait presque partout ailleurs en Amérique du Nord. Actuellement, au Québec, un étudiant en histoire paie environ 40% du coût de sa formation, contre 5% pour un étudiant en médecine vétérinaire. Est-ce équitable?
Michel Poitevin a simulé les nouveaux droits de scolarité des 24 disciplines universitaires en fonction de cette hypothèse de part égale. Il a établi ces nouveaux droits pour que l’université obtienne les mêmes revenus, au bout du compte. Son modèle est basé sur la situation qui prévaut à l’Université de Montréal.
Montréal, métropole universitaire: The Montréal community shows support and expresses concern for its universities
(Telbec) Close to 500 cultural, social, economic, academic and political decision-makers came together today for the Montréal, métropole universitaire forum. Organized by the city’s nine universities in collaboration with the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, this event was meant to add to the debate surrounding the Sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur. This was the first time that the nine Montréal universities organized, jointly, such an event.
University underfunding threatens city’s status: Forum
(Montreal Gazette) Quebec’s nine universities got together in advance of this month’s Summit on Higher Education to send a message about the role universities play in Quebec life — and to warn they are in a fragile state because of chronic underfunding.
Saying universities are inextricably connected to research and research is the engine of the knowledge economy in Quebec, the universities teamed up with the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal to say it is imperative that the city maintain its status as the university capital of Canada.
Sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur : l’ASSE lance un ultimatum à Québec
L’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSE) annonce qu’elle quittera le Sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur si le gouvernement Marois ne remplit pas trois conditions, dont celle d’inclure le principe de la gratuité scolaire dans les sujets abordés lors du Sommet.
En conférence de presse, lundi matin, deux porte-parole de l’ASSE ont expliqué que leur association « tend une perche finale » au ministre responsable de l’Enseignement supérieur, Pierre Duchesne, et le « somme de respecter ses engagements » en posant trois conditions à la participation de l’ASSE au sommet :
2 February
Henry Aubin: Summit on universities is bypassing big issues affecting the future of higher education
Plans for the Quebec government’s upcoming summit on higher education are avoiding what is perhaps the No. 1 issue confronting universities around the globe today — a technological revolution that the president of Stanford University calls an impending “tsunami.”
The minister for higher education, Pierre Duchesne, and the student militants to whom he kowtows are in a bubble: They’re fixated on how to keep tuition freakishly low. They don’t have their eye on the big picture — the dawn of a promising but also disruptive era of online instruction. …
Not all universities are imperilled. Some U.S. educators say the tsunami will not endanger high-ranked, research-intensive universities. Middle-class parents, they generalize, will always want to send their children to prestigious schools on the assumption that campus life offers a healthy, maturing experience. McGill could be one of these easy survivors.
More vulnerable would be those universities serving students living close by, many of whom have little money and are the first in their families to go to university.
28 January
Quebec’s higher education minister rejects calls for free tuition
(CBC) One month before the start of province’s post-secondary education summit, Quebec’s higher education minister is rejecting calls for free university tuition. (Radio Canada) Le PQ dit non à la gratuité scolaire
23 January
Le recteur de l’UdeM plaide pour des droits de scolarité modulés
(La Presse) Le recteur de l’Université de Montréal, Guy Breton, propose de moduler les droits de scolarité selon le domaine d’étude, une idée partagée par les trois candidats à la direction du Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ).
Au cours d’un débat, le 13 janvier, l’ex-ministre des Finances Raymond Bachand a mis sur la table cette proposition en vertu de laquelle un étudiant en médecine paierait des droits plus élevés que celui en histoire, en raison des coûts de la formation et des perspectives de revenus. Philippe Couillard et Pierre Moreau se sont ralliés à l’idée.
18 January
La communauté montréalaise se mobilise pour soutenir ses universités
Le 4 février prochain, les neuf universités de la métropole, de concert avec la Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain, tiendront un forum préparatoire au Sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur. L’événement se tiendra au Centre Mont-Royal. C’est la première fois que les neuf universités montréalaises organisent, ensemble, un événement semblable.
L’objectif de cet exercice de réflexion, qui portera sur le rôle et l’apport des établissements universitaires montréalais, est de permettre la tenue de discussions sur les attentes de la communauté à l’égard des universités et de mieux cerner la contribution de ces dernières au développement socio-économique et culturel de la métropole.
« Nos établissements d’enseignement supérieur jouent un rôle vital dans la définition de l’identité de notre société. Ils sont les fondements de notre économie, les bases de notre système de santé et de services sociaux, et de l’expression de notre culture. En ce sens, il est nécessaire de tout mettre en œuvre pour leur apporter le soutien qu’ils méritent et requièrent ainsi que de réfléchir à une vision d’avenir commune pour leur développement », souligne Louise Roy, chancelière et présidente du Conseil d’administration de l’Université de Montréal, et co-porte-parole de l’événement.
Students, universities at impasse as summit approaches
Education summit scheduled for Feb. 25, 26
(CBC) Representatives of the Quebec government and student groups met with University rectors and professors on Friday, but their all-day meeting ended with them at odds.
Universities complained about under-funding while students called for improvements in what they called university administrative waste and mismanagement of funds.

2012

A timeline of Quebec’s student protests
1,152 students voted in favour of boycotting classes and 557 voted against. The 1,700 votes represented roughly five per cent of Concordia’s 35,000 undergraduates. Student associations representing business, engineering, computer science students and history students held their own votes later in March where they decided their students would continue classes.More
CIC Rapid Response
Are the Quebec riots a manifestation of the global Occupy movement?
David (Jones) vs David (Kilgour)
(Yahoo! blogs) Allowing student protests to continue threatens Quebec democracy

++++++++++++++

Doubts surround summit on higher education
(McGill Daily) Students and university administrators from across the province are growing increasingly skeptical of the government’s upcoming summit on higher education, accusing the Parti Québecois (PQ) of determining the outcome of the summit in advance.
Despite promises of further investments, Minister of Higher Education Pierre Duchesne asked universities on Tuesday to find $124 million in cuts by the end of the year.
… an email from Principal Heather Munroe-Blum to members of the McGill community, which described the cuts as “short-sighted” and claimed that they “threaten the very future of Quebec.”
“Now, we are being asked to manage the financial decline of the educational system, and the proposed decline of our educational and research contributions, our services to our students and professors, and our upkeep and management of our facilities,” the email read.
McGill is set to reduce its operating grant by $17 million to $21 million, according to the University.
Administrators are not alone in their criticism.
On Wednesday, l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ) called the cuts “unacceptable” and vowed to mobilize students for the summit in February.
22 November
Yves Boisvert: Le joli temps des carrés rouges…
Je revois les députés de l’Opposition officielle, le printemps dernier, affichant fièrement leur carré rouge, pour racoler le mouvement étudiant.
Les voici maintenant au pouvoir. Eh non, les enfants, y a pas de magie… La dette… Les taxes… Les impôts… et bien sûr un trou laissé dans les livres de l’ancien gouvernement…
8 November
Quebec students, business owners disagree on tuition financing
CAQ doubt education summit will be effective
(CBC) “The businesses in Quebec have double the taxation than in Canada. It’s more to be able to find a way that everyone can contribute,” said François Vincent, senior policy advisor for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. … Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault said he does not believe Premier Pauline Marois and Duchesne have an understanding of the state of university financing.
“I can’t believe we have a premier and a post-secondary education minister who doubt the underfunding of universities. It baffles me,” said Legault.
1 November
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois guilty of contempt of court
(CTV) The face of Quebec’s student uprising was found guilty of contempt of court on Thursday, when Justice Denis Jacques ruled that Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois had incited protesters to ignore court orders.
The spokesman for the student coalition CLASSE, Nadeau-Dubois faces a year in prison and a $50,000 fine.
During the student movement that rocked Quebec in the spring, some students sought and were granted injunctions banning demonstrations from interfering with their classes.
On Thursday, Jacques ruled that Nadeau-Dubois encouraged protesters to violate those injunctions with statements he made during an interview with Radio-Canada on May 13, 2012.
“I think that it is completely legitimate for students to undertake the means necessary to respect the democratic choice to strike,” Nadeau-Dubois told the interviewer. “It’s completely regrettable that a minority of students are using the courts to go around decisions that were made collectively.
“If students need to form picket lines to ensure that their strike votes are respected, we think that’s a completely legitimate.”
University of Laval student Jean-Francois Morasse, who had won an injunction, filed the complaint against Nadeau-Dubois following that interview.
Nadeau-Dubois was often criticized for not speaking out strongly enough against the violent actions taken by some protesters. During the course of the trial, he kept quiet.
27 September
Outrage au tribunal: Nadeau-Dubois convaincu de son innocence
(La Presse) C’est avec son assurance habituelle que Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois s’est présenté au palais de justice de Québec pour son procès pour outrage au tribunal. L’ex-porte-parole de la Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE) se dit convaincu de son innocence et misera sur le fait qu’il n’a jamais eu personnellement l’intention de contrevenir à l’ordonnance de la cour.

22 September
Quebec student group wants free tuition now that hike is off the table
One Quebec student group says that with tuition hikes officially off the table, it will now champion the idea of free education.
The new Parti Quebecois government scrapped a controversial increase in post-secondary tuition fees this week and a hardline student group is now turning to free education as its long-term goal.
CLASSE, which speaks for 100,000 Quebec students, says free education is entirely achievable and used a march attended by several hundred people on Saturday to highlight the issue.
Free education is not a position that is shared by the province’s two other major student associations and with the proposed hike by the former Liberal government formally cancelled, Quebec has the lowest tuition in the country again.
8 September
Cancelled tuition hike big win for student association
(CBC) Martine Desjardins, president of Quebec’s university students association, says Pauline Marois’ promise to cancel a tuition fee hike is a victory for the students group.
Marois, the province’s premier designate, made the tuition fee promise a scant 24 hours after her election. Desjardins said that while the issue of tuition fees has been addressed, FEUQ -— the Federation des Étudiants Universitaires du Québec — has other items of importance to pursue with the new government.
The Parti Québécois also pledged to hold a summit on post-secondary education soon after forming government. The promise said the summit would take place, or be announced, within 100 days of the PQ taking power.
28 August
Quebec students charged after second day of clashes — Charest refuses to take hard line
(National Post) The student protesters ended up disrupting a psychology class, having mistaken it for the film class they were looking for.
Protesters said they were only disrupting classes in departments where student associations had voted to continue striking over the Liberal government’s tuition hike.
Numerous pundits have suggested Premier Jean Charest might take a hard line with the students during the election campaign, as his best hope of reviving the sagging fortunes of his Liberal party.
27 August
Disruptions, riot police as Quebec universities reopen
(CTV) The calm of summer was shattered Monday with the reopening of Quebec universities, where some classes were disrupted as protesters disobeyed the back-to-school law.
… The reopening of two Montreal universities produced numerous tense moments. Several classes were cancelled by masked, noise-making crowds that banged on pots, pulled fire alarms or blew on air horns while ordering students to leave. The crowds worked their way from one room to another, determined to clear out classes in any faculty that had voted to continue striking.
That led to confrontations with security, staff and students who wanted [to] study. In one case, a teacher blocked protesters from entering a class at Université du Québec à Montréal. Other teachers simply cancelled classes amid the cacophony. In one case, a class was suspended when no students showed up.
23 August
Students should wait to pay tuition, PQ says
The Parti Québécois is telling students they should delay paying their tuition fees in case the party rises to power in the upcoming election.
Students are beginning to see bills outlining their fall semester school fees and saving up funds to pay for classes, but the PQ said people should wait before paying their colleges and universities in case the party could readjust the invoices.
22 August
Protesting student leaders say Liberals, CAQ disregard youth
6th monthly student protest calls for political awareness
(CBC) Quebec student leaders are urging people to question every political party in the upcoming election and say they are confident the Jean Charest’s Liberal Party will not be reelected on Sept. 4.
21 August
Vers la fin de la grève… jusqu’aux élections
(La Presse) Trois importantes associations étudiantes ont voté pour mettre fin à la grève, hier. Le retour en classe le 27 août devrait donc être moins chaotique que prévu, ce qui permettra aux étudiants de terminer leur trimestre d’hiver.
À l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), les étudiants de l’Association des sciences de l’éducation (ADEESE) se sont prononcés pour une trêve jusqu’au 5 septembre. Dès le lendemain des élections, ils pourraient choisir de reprendre la grève. Les étudiants de l’Association de la faculté de science politique et droit (AFESPED) ont quant à eux décidé de retourner sur les bancs d’école. Les deux organisations, qui se sont prononcées en soirée hier, étaient en grève depuis le début du mouvement.
15 August
Des élèves réclament une reprise du vote
(La Presse) Découragés par les votes qui ont reconduit la grève aux cégeps de Saint-Laurent et du Vieux Montréal, des centaines d’élèves misent maintenant sur des pétitions pour renverser les résultats, a appris La Presse. Sous la pression, l’association étudiante du cégep de Saint-Laurent tiendra un nouveau vote cette semaine. Celle du Vieux Montréal, réputée comme étant l’une des plus militantes de la province, n’exclut pas de faire la même chose. … quelque 650 élèves ont apposé leur signature électronique sur le document en ligne. C’est presque trois fois plus que le nombre de cégépiens qui se sont prononcés pour la grève durant le week-end, et une centaine de plus que le nombre d’élèves qui se sont présentés à la dernière assemblée.
13 August
PQ plan to limit English CEGEP access could be risky
(CBC|Bernard St-Laurent)The party’s star candidate, Léo Bureau-Blouin, admits even he was unable to convince the CEGEP student federation to support the resolution when he was president.
The Parti-Québécois wants to prevent francophone and allophone students from attending English CEGEPs.
It’s part of a commitment to table a new, more restrictive, Charter of the French Language in the first 100 days of a new PQ government.
9 August
Nadeau-Dubois resigns from CLASSE
His one regret: leaving office ‘while Quebec is still run by Jean Charest’
7 August
Students strike vote pivotal for Quebec Liberals
(CBC) Thousands of Quebec post-secondary students are preparing to make up their winter session, but those plans may be stalled again if a majority of students vote to continue this year’s strike.
Marois veut que «100% des étudiants» retournent en classe
Pauline Marois veut que les cours reprennent en août et que tous les cégépiens et universitaires y assistent.«Je souhaite évidemment que tous les étudiants puissent retourner à leurs cours», a déclaré la chef du Parti québécois cet après-midi de passage dans le nord de la Gaspésie.
5 August
Quebec Student Strike: Pivotal Week Ahead With Return-To-School Vote
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) Students in the more militant CLASSE association will vote over a nine-day period, starting Tuesday, on heading back to school when it reopens mid-month.
The votes are the latest chapter in an improbable six-month saga that saw Quebec’s tuition battle catapulted from the pages of campus newspapers into major foreign media.
They arrive as students grapple with an overriding strategic dilemma: to suspend the fight, or keep it up and risk helping to re-elect the Charest Liberals?
30 July
Quebec’s newest party stakes out middle ground on students
(Canadian Press via iPolitics) The Coalition For Quebec’s Future, led by Francois Legault, says it would set tuition hikes at $200 per year over five years, significantly less than the current planned increase of $254 over seven years. Legault would also delay implementing the hikes for another semester, only bringing them in next January. He is also urging the government to abandon parts of a controversial protest law that would set severe fines for anyone blocking a school.
La CLASSE élabore sa stratégie automnale
Les porte-parole Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois et Jeanne Reynolds ont affirmé que les militants réunis à l’Université Laval se prononceront sur l’opportunité d’un retour en classe.
«C’est un débat important. À l’intérieur de chaque association étudiante il y a ce débat, à l’intérieur de la population il y a ce débat», a exposé M. Nadeau-Dubois. «Est-ce qu’il faut faire un repli stratégique? Est-ce qu’il faut inviter les gens à retomber en grève? Retomber en grève après la rentrée? Retomber en grève après des élections? Il y a toutes sortes de configurations possibles et c’est ce débat qu’on va avoir en fin de semaine.»
25 July
No red square for former Quebec student leader Leo Bureau-Blouin in debut PQ news conference
(National Post) Many Quebecers support Premier Jean Charest’s decision to increase tuition, and the absence of the red square can be interpreted as an attempt by Bureau-Blouin and the PQ not to alienate those people come election day.
22 June
Students protest calmly in Montreal, Quebec City
‘Crisis is not over,’ student leaders tell province
(CBC) Thousands of people rallied for day of protest Friday in Montreal and in Quebec City, as student leaders vowed to continue their demonstrations through the summer.
The large daytime demonstrations, which oppose Quebec tuition hikes and Bill 78, have been taking place on the 22nd day of every month since March.
18 June
McGill student responds to Navi Pillay’s Canada remarks
(UN Watch) Sabrina Ostrowski, a born and bred Montrealer and a student at McGill University, has written an open letter responding to UN human rights chief Navi Pillay’s recent criticism of Canada. Her letter – a valuable contribution to the debate from someone with an inside knowledge of the issues in question – follows:
Greetings,
I am writing to you today to express my concern regarding Mrs. Pillay’s recent remarks regarding the human rights situation in Canada. As a student in the city of Montreal, I can confidently say that the only right that has been impeded on is CAUSED by protestors: the right to security. I am a business student in McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management and I am in support of the tuition hike, consequently against the strike. This opinion, however, seems not to be accepted by those protesting in the streets.
14 June
Quebec student protesters face spectre of criminal records for years to come
(Postmedia) Even without a conviction, some run-ins with the law cannot be completely erased, which could make it difficult for some to travel to the United States or get a job, legal experts and border control agents say.
“There are dangers associated with this whole thing that many of the students and their parents are unaware of,” said lawyer Julius Grey, who is representing a handful of the more than 65 people who face criminal charges connected to the student demonstrations.
Many hundreds more have been fined under provincial Bill 78 but only received tickets, which, once paid, don’t leave a trace.
11 June
The Global Delusions of the Quebec Protesters
By Kyle Matthews
(CIC) Pro-strike student leaders have channelled the Occupy message and publicly stated that they are standing up for the 99 per cent against the one per cent. For people suffering from drought and food insecurity in Niger and Somalia, Quebec’s “red squares” likely appear to belong to the top percentile. Those in the Middle East who are losing family members to Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria or to the recent deadly violence that has ransacked the Arab world may be gravely offended that protesters have labelled the unrest in Quebec the “printemps érable” (maple spring). Comparisons have variously been made with the Indian independence movement, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, the civil-rights movement in the United States, the fight against slavery in the American South, and the fight for women’s suffrage. But let’s be clear: Quebec is not Egypt. Charest is not Hosni Mubarak or Moammar Gadhafi. Quebec university students are not living the same reality as Black slaves in the American South.
How this crisis will end nobody knows, but its impact is already being felt economically. International tourists are apprehensive about visiting Quebec, and Montreal’s global reputation is suffering. Some might see real or imagined parallels with Greece and wonder if Canada’s second most populated province is becoming less desirable and less competitive. This is particularly concerning right now, when the global economy is fragile and the international competition to attract and retain skilled workers and foreign direct investment is fierce.
7  June
5 arrested in Montreal raids for metro mischief, vandalism
Quebec politician’s daughter among suspects rounded up questioning
6 June
Concordia to punish those who blocked classes‎
Code of Rights explicitly outlaws obstruction
(Macleans)Concordia University students who blocked others from attending classes and exams during the now four-month-old “student strike” protests will face sanctions, reports the Montreal Gazette.
The university’s Office of Rights and Responsibilities has charged a number of students under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities and will try them this month. Sanctions may include payment for damaged property, community service, suspension or expulsion, a university spokesperson has said.
Concordia students face formal complaints from university for strike action
5 June
Richard Martineau: Les nouveaux puritains
(Journal de Montréal) Avant, ce sont les curés qui nous disaient quoi voir et ne pas voir du haut de leur chaire. Maintenant, ce sont les altermondialistes.
À chaque époque, ses puritains
Henry Aubin: A startling rate of failure
Quebec does not need a lot more sociology majors. It needs more radiology technicians, nurses and other socially useful workers. Such careers need the respect they richly deserve.
Quebec student leaders try to calm Montreal festival fears
(CBC) Heads of 3 groups meet with Just for Laughs boss Rozon to discuss protests
Though CLASSE opted not to attend the meeting with Rozon, Nadeau-Dubois took to Twitter to condemn any threats directed his way.
2 June
Quebec’s ‘grand awakening:’ not a revolution, but a confrontation
(Globe & Mail) Young people may be waking up to diminished economic opportunity and the loss of privileges granted previous generations, but the protests have a side-effect that has dark implications for the province, says [Mario Dumont].
“Would you consider the total incapacity to make change in a society an awakening? I’m not so sure,” says Mr. Dumont, who embraces the free-market ideology the protesters are railing against. “It’s a bit exaggerated. The basis of this whole thing is the refusal of one group to pay more for a given service. There’s nothing more ‘business as usual’ than that.”
31 May
Charest ‘disappointed’ as Quebec student talks hit impasse
Students say province won’t budge on their tuition-freeze proposal for image reasons
(CBC) … Student leaders said, however, that they had made four counter-offers to the government, none of which it seriously considered, and all of which respected its requirement that any proposal be cost-neutral for the provincial treasury.
The latest of those proposals would have avoided tuition hikes for two years by instead reducing the income-tax deduction for post-secondary tuition. It would have also curtailed the Quebec Education Savings Initiative, a tax credit implemented by the Liberals in 2007 that gives money to people who open savings accounts for their or their children’s education.
Charest fiercely denounced that idea in an interview Thursday evening, saying the tax credit was designed to help middle-class families save for their kids’ education.
Defending Quebec’s Crackdown on Striking Students
By Beryl Wajsman
(NYT) The writers claim that Bill 78, passed in Quebec in response to student protests, is “trampling basic democratic rights.” It does no such thing. The bill simply requires that anyone planning a protest of 50 people or more inform authorities of the location or route eight hours beforehand and stay 50 meters away from institutions of learning.
29 May
Peter Perkins:Quebecers need to face reality – our finances matter
(The Gazette) The student protests that were originally about proposed tuition increases have evolved into a broader debate about financing education, intergenerational responsibilities, burden sharing and the Quebec social compact.
These are all valid issues for Quebecers to debate and the decisions we make will have a profound impact on future economic performance and opportunities for citizens.
Yet these decisions must be made against the fiscal and economic realities of the province.
Quebec student talks resume amid more protests
Quebec City police arrest 84, detain pair of student negotiators
(CBC) … Protest law, tuition on the table, student leaders insist
Negotiators from four student associations sat down with Education Minister Michelle Courchesne, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand and several government officials starting at about 2:15 p.m. Monday, breaking only for dinner.
Nadeau-Dubois said as the talks began that the government must be willing to bargain over its planned tuition fee hike and Bill 78, its controversial legislation that restricts public demonstrations and threatens steep fines for student groups that don’t comply.
“If the government “refuses to address Bill 78 and tuition fees, it’s certain that there’ll be considerable doubt about how much time we’ll spend at the negotiating table,” Nadeau-Dubois said.
26 May
Kyle Matthews: Aspirational Anarchy in Quebec
25 May
Quebec students seek to nullify emergency law
(RCI) The protest movement against the Charest government is switching the legal arena. Lawyers for student federations and other groups appeared in a Montreal courtroom on Friday to file legal motions against Bill 78, the law aimed at cracking down on student protests.
24 May
Céline Cooper: This protest is both inspiring and scary
Despite the levity of the “casserole” demonstrations, the stark reality is that objectivity, dialogue and moderation are becoming dangerously rare things in this conflict at a time when they are needed the most.
The clank-clank of pots is refreshingly spontaneous, but ideological camps have hardened and I wonder: Where is this all going?
John Moore: It’s the older generation that’s entitled, not students
(National Post) “Entitlement.” We hear that word associated again and again with student protesters in Quebec. Usually, it’s preceded by the words, “sense of.”
… Setting aside the fact that this inter-generational hectoring dates back to Socrates, let us ask: Who exactly is making the charge? Quebec has had low tuition rates for a half century. That means almost every living adult in the province, having already been afforded a plum goodie, is now wagging his finger at the first generation that will be asked to pay the tab. So who really is entitled here.  This column provoked some sharp reactions – and valid points.
How Are The Quebec Protests Being Reported Around The World?
(CBC) As the Quebec tuition protests continue, media outlets around the world are taking notice. Reporting on the situation has ranged from the even-handed look at the situation of Al-Jazeera’s article to a New York Times op-ed calling Quebec “a province that rides roughshod over its citizens’ fundamental freedoms”.
Quebec student protests: commentary and analysis from around the web
23 May
Andrew Coyne: Quebec students’ thrilling attempt to cripple democracy
(National Post) … I’m thinking, particularly, of the students “on strike” in Quebec, and within that group the marchers, and within that group the ones with the masks, the ones who are nervy and determined enough to take a brick and smash it through a shop window, or lob it at the nearest police officer, the ones who blocked and intimidated the scab students from entering the schools, or where they had already done so, invaded the classrooms, jumped on the desks, daubed the walls with graffiti. I’m not thinking of the shopkeepers or the cops or the scabs just now. I’m just focused on how exhilarating this is.
Student protests in Quebec: War of attrition
(The Economist) THE organisers of the Formula One motor racing circuit had long anticipated that their Grand Prix in Bahrain, whose government crushed a protest movement last year, would be the biggest headache on their 2012 schedule. Yet the biggest disruption to the programme may well take place in Canada instead, where Montreal, the site of a race due on June 8th-10th, has been wracked by demonstrations over university tuition.
… Nonetheless, the broader public remains on the government’s side: polls show about two-third of Quebeckers support the tuition increase. The stalemate seems unlikely to end before the racecars start their engines.
22 May
Analysis: What should Charest do next?
At least this puts the options forward in light of rising sentiment, but the conclusion is simply:
(Montreal Gazette) So on Tuesday – following the usual nasty exchange in the National Assembly between Charest and Marois, which accomplished little – the government seemed to be headed back to Square One.
“I reiterate there is still an open door,” newly named Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said answering a question about potential talks. “We will always be at the negotiating table if the students want to join us.”
21 May
Lysiane Gagnon: The tuition protesters’ fellow travellers

(Globe & Mail) Mix together a generation of kids used to having their way at home with various groups of adults carrying their own political agendas, and the cocktail you get is the longest and wildest student revolt in Canada’s history.  This so-called “strike” would never have lasted so long if it hadn’t been supported by adult fellow travellers from political parties, labour unions and pressure groups determined to strike a mortal blow to Jean Charest’s Liberal government.
18 May
Pierre Marc Johnson: Une faiblesse regrettable
(La Presse) Le communiqué du Barreau manque de force et de cohérence, il tente de ménager la chèvre et le chou.
Par son intervention tardive devant l’action de rue des étudiants et des casseurs qui s’y mêlent, le Barreau fait montre d’un manque élémentaire de compréhension de ce qu’est l’ordre public. Il saisit mal les choix à faire entre la réserve, quand elle s’impose, et l’à-propos, la pertinence et la clarté nécessaires, dans d’autres circonstances.
Ce communiqué qui vient si tard et qui est mièvre évoque de façon surprenante un équilibre entre le vote occasionnel à main levée dans des assemblées étudiantes et celui des membres de l’Assemblée nationale.
Quebec adopts emergency law to end tuition crisis
(CBC) Critics pan new rules as attack on constitutional rights
17 May
Lysiane Gagnon
: Le clivage franco-anglo
Dans la crise étudiante, il y a un net clivage entre la région montréalaise, où se concentre l’agitation, et le reste de la province. Même le cégep de Limoilou, qui a toujours été un foyer de contestation étudiante, fonctionne normalement…Mais il y a un autre clivage, encore plus spectaculaire, et celui-là a en quelque sorte scindé la ville en deux. C’est celui qui existe entre les francophones et les anglophones.
Conflit étudiant: la position du Barreau du Québec critiquée de l’intérieur
Le fait que le Barreau du Québec ait demandé au gouvernement Charest de ne pas adopter une loi spéciale, mercredi, ne fait pas l’unanimité.
Dans une lettre envoyée directement au bâtonnier en soirée, et qui circulait dans les milieux juridiques jeudi matin, l’avocat Bernard Amyot critique sévèrement la prise de position de son ordre professionnel.
Threat of emergency law sends Quebec students back into streets
(RCI) The premier of the province of Quebec has announced plans to introduce an emergency law to end the spring semester for schools that have been paralysed by student protests over the past 13 weeks. The announcement sparked a new round of demonstrations and more violence in Montreal last night (Wednesday) as thousands of students once again took to the streets. Police resorted to tear gas and pepper spray to break-up the protest after some started hurling rocks and smashing bank windows. More than 120 protesters were arrested. Under Premier Jean Charest’s plan, students would return to class in August to complete their spring semester. The premier also hinted at severe penalties for anyone who tries to prevent students from entering classrooms as happened yesterday.
Quebec students react to emergency law

A special law that would provide a cooling-off period for both sides in the tuition hike battle in Quebec could be introduced this evening.
16 May
Quebec students go on rampage

(RCI) Student protesters stormed into a university in Montreal, many of them with their faces covered by masks, moving through the hallways in a hunt for classes to disrupt. The chaotic scene was orchestrated Wednesday by protesters determined to enforce their declared strikes. They resented the fact that some students had used legal injunctions to return to school. With a list of scheduled classes in hand, about 100 protesters marched through pavilions at the Universite du Québec à Montreal. Making noise with drums and whistles, they moved through the main UQAM building, splitting up on a number of occasions as they searched for ongoing classes.
15 May
Charest should not back down

(Globe & Mail editorial) Those who feel passionately opposed to the tuition increase have accorded themselves the right to do as they wish. I feel, ergo I can do as I bloody well please. It’s as if a sense of justification borrowed from the Arab Spring merged with the destruction-is-fun atmosphere of the Vancouver hockey riot.
11 May
Analysis: Montreal subway smoke-bombers heighten tensions in Quebec tuition debate

(National Post) Whoever is responsible for shutting down Montreal’s entire subway system at the height of the morning rush hour, it seems to be having the effect of entrenching people on either side of the argument deeper into their convictions, pushing the two sides in the province’s ongoing tuition debate farther apart, and raising the spectre neither pole will be able to find a compromise to end the impasse.
10 May
Graeme Hamilton: In Quebec student strike, where there’s smoke there’s denial
The government’s eggshell-walking Thursday was typical of the response to the striking students throughout the conflict. From the beginning, there has been a failure to spell out that their freedom to protest ends when it infringes on the rights of others.
Montreal smoke bomb suspects caught on camera

(CBC) Officials aren’t linking the student demonstrations to the actions in the metro, however the major disruptions started as the tuition protests ramped up.
9 May
Quebec students rejecting tuition-fee deal

The crisis is hitting community colleges the hardest. Strike votes in universities occur within each faculty and department, while they are taken in community colleges as a whole, paralyzing entire institutions and potentially impacting the lives of thousands of students for months to come.
Andrew Coyne: In Quebec, a premier surrenders to mob rule
(National Post) Even capitulation, Jean Charest found, was not enough. He’d stood by while striking students had blocked and intimidated others from attending classes. He’d done nothing while cars were torched and shop windows were smashed, while Paul Rose, the FLQ terrorist, was feted, while court orders were ignored.
After weeks of escalating mayhem, he’d agreed to stretch the increase in tuition fees over seven years, rather than five. When this failed to stop the violence, he’d moved the Quebec Liberal Party’s annual conference to Victoriaville from Montreal, for fear of the “demo-action” of “general rage” the students had promised. And after the students pursued him there, after billiard balls and chunks of asphalt had been hurled at police, after one cop who’d been separated from the rest was beaten savagely — punched and kicked and whacked with sticks as he lay helpless on the ground — the very next day, while the tear gas hung in the air, he cut a deal.
8 May
Puzzling Over the Quebec Student “Strike”

By David T. Jones
Regardless of the ultimate resolution of the strike, one can be sure that demonstrators of every ilk have learned how to extort the government; their fear of inflicting violence is greater than the pain of enduring it.
7 May
Deal to end Quebec tuition fee crisis unravelling

The tentative deal that promised a welcome end to the three-month-long confrontation over tuition-fee hikes in Quebec has run head-on into a wall of student resistance, sending the government scrambling to salvage a fast-deteriorating situation.
5 May
Quebec student leaders agree to end boycott

(CBC) Negotiations went nearly 24 hours without interruption Quebec’s education minister said she has reached an “agreement in principle” to end the province’s ongoing student strike. In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Line Beauchamp said the student groups still have to present the deal to their members. That didn’t last long
4 May
Spoiled Kids? Hardly

By Pierre Martin, professor of political science at the Université de Montréal
While social science and humanities programs still value the fundamentals of a liberal arts education, they also make genuine efforts to link theoretical teachings to real-world applications. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much what all our students will gain from this noisy episode: a much-too-costly unpaid internship in applied politics, with no credits.
3 May
Henry Mintzberg: An appeal to reason to Quebec’s self-absorbed students

You know what? You’ve got a good deal. So maybe it is time you stopped striking against yourselves and the rest of us.
You think you are on the side of righteousness. Think again. That is the purpose of education.
Quebec student group wants free tuition in 5 years

Proposes that banks be taxed for free education
Canada’s ‘Maple Spring’?

Dissecting the longest student strike in Quebec’s history
In February, some of Quebec’s post-secondary students went on strike, stopped attending classes and took to the streets to protest a proposed 75% hike in tuition fees. Three months later, the students are still protesting — sometimes peacefully and sometimes not. Small red squares of cloth, pinned to lapels and backpack straps, have become the symbol of protest.
The demonstrations have now caught international attention. The students’ refusal to back down, the provincial government’s position and the general social unrest was this week labelled Canada’s “Maple Spring” by Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

2 May
Editorial-Time to teach responsibility

(The Suburban) It is clear that for tens of thousands, if not for hundreds of thousands, of Quebec’s students, civility and discipline did not sink in as they made their way through the post- secondary curriculum. Well, their educators could do them, and society, a favour by using this moment in history as a chance to teach them an object lesson in responsibility.
The schools and administrators who have made it known that they are prepared to extend the semester are doing no favour to the integrity of their institutions, the tax-paying public or the striking students. These students must be taught that actions have consequences and that responsibility is a prerequisite for entry into mature, civilized society.
Quebec student protests mark ‘Maple spring’ in Canada
(The Guardian, UK) A revolt against a government tuition fee hike is growing into Occupy-inspired dissent against austerity and inequality
Lucien Bouchard wades into tuition debate

(CTV) Lucien Bouchard is among several personalities to sign a public letter asking Quebecers to support the government, arguing that tuition hikes are necessary to make up for a general freeze over the years.
The letter says there’s a limit to the burden taxpayers can carry with respect to providing social services; it also suggests recent street protests are an outsized reaction to the hikes.
1 May
Two-thirds of Quebec students quietly completing class

Roughly two-thirds of Quebec students are not on a declared strike from their classrooms, are not necessarily participating in daily marches against tuition hikes, and not getting the attention of the national and international media.
What are they doing? They’re completing their semester on time.
At McGill University, classes and exams have been largely unaffected by the student unrest. Only three departments — Gender, Sexuality and Women’s studies; Graduate Art History; and French Literature — are on strike.

One Comment on "Quebec ‘student’ protests 2012 and the aftermath"

  1. Pierre Arbour May 26, 2012 at 1:26 am · Reply

    In answer to the heading “Our Not-So-Friendly Northern Neighbor” (NY Times, May 24, 2012), here are some facts:

    There has not been any tuition increases in Quebec in five years.
    Quebec university fees at $ 2,150 yearly are the lowest in Canada, except for Prince Edward Island.
    The 75% increase of $ 1,625 initially spread over five years is now spread over seven years for a yearly increase of $ 275 or 50ȼ a day. The scholarship and student loan programs have also been recently improved by the Quebec government. U.S. students, if they knew, would be terribly envious of our Quebec students.
    Quebec university fees are approximately a third of Ontario’s, Canada’s largest province. Despite its lower university fees, Quebec’s participation rate in higher education is 35% versus 45% in Ontario.
    The new law, Bill 78, has been voted and adopted by two out of the three main political parties: the purpose, to allow non-striking students to go to their classes unhindered and to prevent violence and mayhem on the streets.
    The new law may be heavy-handed but it is the law until the courts decide on its legality.

    The student movement has recently disclosed their new agenda: free university education for all. How do taxpayers pay for it? It has not been explained. There is also a hidden agenda: the resignation of the duly elected Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, following the recent resignation of Quebec’s Education Minister.

    A friendly northern neighbor,

    Pierre Arbour

    May 25, 2012

    Pierre Arbour heads a Foundation which grants scholarships to Master and Ph.D. students at the four Montreal universities.

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