Monday, June 11, 2012

Solidarity with Quebec students

Photo: Me at the "casserole" rally in Victoria this SaturdayFor months now, students in Quebec have been on strike and protesting daily to stop tuition increases of 75%.  They movement has been named the “Printemps Erable” - the Maple Spring.  In response to their strike, the Quebec government enacted Bill 78—a law designed to stifle protest with outragesous fines for what would usually be lawful assembly.

Quebec students and members of CLASSE describe the law:

Among other draconian elements brought forward by this law, any gathering of 50 or more people must submit their plans to the police eight hours ahead of time and must agree to any changes to the gathering’s trajectory, starttime, etc. Any failure to comply with this stifling of freedom of assembly and association will be met with a fine of up to $5,000 for every participant, $35,000 for someone representing a ‘leadership’ position, or $125,000 if a union – labour or student – is deemed to be in charge. The participation of any university staff (either support staff or professors) in any student demonstration (even one that follows the police’s trajectory and instructions) is equally punishable by these fines. Promoting the violation of any of these prohibitions is considered, legally, equivalent to having violated them and is equally punishable by these crippling fines.

One cannot view this law in isolation. In the past few months, the Québec student movement – inspired by Occupy, the Indignados of Spain, the students of Chile, and over 50 years of student struggle in Québec; and presently at North America’s forefront of fighting the government’s austerity agenda – has been confronted by precedent-shattering judicial and police repression in an attempt to force the end of the strike and our right to organize collectively.

Published May 22 2012 in Canadian Dimension
By Max Silverman, Andrée Bourbeau, Emilie Charette and Emilie Breton-Côté

The use of Bill 78 is similar to Bill 22 - a law used to try and silence teachers in British Columbia. Both rely on exorbitant fines as a deterrent for speaking up and taking action. Under Bill 22, the BC Teachers' Federation can be fined $1.2 million per day and individual teachers up to $475 per day for any strike activity. This even though we have no collective agreement and should be in a legal strike position.

A number of solidarity rallies are taking place across Canada to show support to Quebec students. They are known as “casserole” rallies following in the tradition of Chile to bang together casserole pots.
If you have a chance, join in with your pots and pans and show support for post-secondary students fighting for quality and affordable education.

1 comment:

  1. "They have named their movement the “Printemps Erable” - the Maple Spring."

    That moniker was assigned by a headline writer at the French newspaper Le Monde, not the students. And, in case there was any doubt, with tongue firmly in cheek.

    "Quebec students and members of CLASSE describe the law"
    You have to be a student to be a member of CLASSE. So that should be: "Members of CLASSE and other students describe the law" OR Quebec students, members of CLASSE"