As for declaring that he will only negotiate with those who denounce the violence, then he should start by asking his own Minister of Education and himself as Minister for Youth to stop making decisions which are responsible for the state of anarchy and violence which has been created. He is only upset because the people of Quebec refuse to welcome his anti-social agenda. If he was not such an extremist as to insist on lifting a tuition freeze which goes against the interests of the Quebec polity, there would be no student strike. He is not only decreeing that the tuition freeze be lifted but that tuition fees be increased by a whopping 75 per cent in three years and he says the students are extremists!
TML calls on one and all to denounce the violence of the government and its agencies which have caused the climate of anarchy and violence. This government is incredibly cynical when it is the one which stands accused of corruption and pay-the-rich schemes, but then it blames others and passes laws and criminalizes those who are harmed by its corruption and cynicism. This is what it did in the case of the construction workers and their unions and now the students and the organizations which represent them are suffering the same fate.
The people must draw a line in the sand against the government's modus operandi which is to deflect attention from its own actions by demanding that people distance themselves from violence and intimidation. His hope is that people will get confused by this agenda which makes violence the issue, not what the government is doing. But to the merit of the student organizations, professors, teachers and Quebeckers, no-one has permitted the government to get away with its divide and conquer tactics, no-one agrees with the criminalization of the resistance struggle or attempt to make it illegitimate.
First the government imposes draconian fee increases and now it is issuing ultimatums demanding that everyone accept this as legitimate and that the students' resistance is illegitimate! How ridiculous is that!
The students and professors are not criminals! Blame the government, not the students, for anarchy and violence! Oppose attempts to divide the student organizations to claim that only two are legitimate. The students chose all three! They, not the government, choose their leaders.
All out to denounce the Charest government this Sunday when Quebeckers will hold it responsible for selling out Quebec's interests on Earth Day!
Students and Their Allies Oppose
Students at Saint-Hyacinthe CEGEP defy injunction,
April 18, 2012.
On behalf of FEUQ, its President Martine Desjardins denounced the use of intimidation and violence against students and teachers who are defending the basic right to demonstrate and to go on strike to force the Charest Liberal government to withdraw the $1,625 tuition fee hike and she asked the Education Minister to do the same. The FEUQ points out that the Education Minister has never denounced the police violence that was used against the students in many universities and that the Minister has neither denounced the university administrations for using private security agencies that intimidate and even physically assault students and teachers in the universities, something the students never did.
Desjardins added that the criminalization of a fight that in essence is political is the wrong way to go. There is no solution, she said, other than having all the student representatives at the table discussing the issue at hand: the tuition fee hike. She said that the government is extremely arrogant to the point of even refusing to discuss the issue and using divide and rule tactics. Premier Charest, according to the FEUQ, is acting in an irresponsible and intolerable way while pretending to represent the whole population, something that is being contradicted by his actions. The FEUQ, she added, did what the Charest government was asking and now it must listen to the demands of the FEUQ and its solutions instead of continuing to divert the issues.
"Stop beating our students --
engage in dialogue!"
At its general membership meeting on April 18, the Teachers' Union at the University of Montreal passed many resolutions:
* To express the full solidarity of the teachers with
students asking to be heard;
*To reaffirm the importance of the democratic decisions that are being taken at the University;
*To denounce the contempt shown by the Government and the university administration for the students, the teachers and the community members as a whole;
*To denounce all forms of violence and express its outrage at the hiring of armed security guards and to demand their immediate withdrawal;
*To oppose the criminalization of this dispute between the Quebec government and the students and the targeting of teachers with this criminalization;
* To demand that the university administration withdraw its demands for injunctions;
*To reaffirm the principle of academic freedom for the teachers;
* To express the teachers' concern over the increased tensions in the university;
*To demand that solutions be found which respect the collective and democratic traditions at the university.
The teachers' union resolved to:
"Teachers support the students"
* Express its support for the teachers and students at
the University of Quebec in the Outaouais;
* Condemn the threats to discipline them issued by the administration of this university;
* Condemn the use of injunctions and police brutality.
All these resolutions were unanimously adopted.
In this university, the tension was such that the university's spokesperson just announced that the classes were suspended. On Monday the administration hired more than 20 new security guards armed with batons. Students said that tension reached a peak when over 100 of them occupied one of the faculties and were intimidated by the security guards. The Director of the Institute of Urban Studies deplored this altercation and said that it violates the academic freedom of the teachers. He told Le Devoir that the security guards went well beyond what they are professionally allowed to do. Already 10 associations have asked for the university Chancellor to resign and 2,300 people signed a petition also asking for his resignation.
Also in Montreal, the teachers' union at the Rosemont CEGEP (SPCR) condemned the use of injunctions and the criminalization of the struggle against the tuition fee hike. At their general membership meeting, the teachers expressed their firm support for the student movement. The union resolved to defend the principles, the values and the rights of its members that are based on democracy and academic freedom. Teachers said that the actions of the Charest government are outrageous and are worsening the social crisis and have no place in a democratic society. They said that the fact that the Charest government is using all possible means to crush the protests shows that it is not interested in solving the dispute. The SPCR is holding the Premier and the Education Minister responsible for the chaos that reached the point of violence in the recent days.
Today, the Federation of the student associations at the University of Montreal (FAECUM) and associations members of FECQ and FEUQ held an anti-repression demonstration that began in front of Charest's office and ended in front of the Montreal Court House. Students wore gags to denounce the attacks on their freedom of expression. FAECUM's General Secretary, referring to the hiring of these security guards at the University of Montreal, asked how long the Minister of Education is going to allow the situation to degenerate. She said that the Minister pledged to convene a meeting to bring the student associations to the table and that it is time for her to put her words into deeds instead of diverting the issues.
A group of lawyers held a press conference on April 18 jointly with CLASSE to denounce the repression of the student strike. They said that criminalizing the struggle leads to increased tensions and violates the democratic decisions that students take in their membership meetings. They pointed out that the right to strike does not apply only to workers and that it is not the Labour Code that created this right.
The students and their allies are more determined than ever to win the justice of their cause.
At the University of Quebec in the Outaouais, police arrested 160 students yesterday. These students were there today in defiance of the injunction with the support of 150 students from Montreal. At the University of Sherbrooke, students and teachers are also fighting injunctions. Yesterday, 10 students were arrested by the Sherbrooke Police as they were blocking the entrance to a regional office of the Ministry of Education. The students refused to follow the police order to leave and they were taken to the police station and charged with $140 fines. The representative of the student association's external affairs at the university said that the association was going to challenge these fines as a bloc. He said that students have been trying in vain to get the ear of the political authorities and that democracy has to express itself in the streets because of the authority's refusal to listen.
On April 18 in Montreal, students occupied for a short while a CIBC bank before being evicted by police using tear gas. Two students were arrested.
Actions carry on. Tomorrow the students are taking part
in a joint
action with First Nations people against the Charest Government's
Northern Plan. On April 22, they are going to take part in the events
organized to mark Earth Day.
Support the Just Struggle of the Students!
On April 18, starting at 8:00 am, university and college students, professors, trade unionists and other supporters demonstrated at the University of Quebec in the Outaouais (UQO) as part of the ongoing actions by the students to fight for their right to education. The unions present included the National Confederation of Trade Unions (CSN), the Outaouais local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Public Service Alliance, the union of college professors, the UQO professors's union, professors from Montreal and community groups such as Action Santé Outaouais. The police were following a zero-tolerance policy. When the demonstrators made their way to Promenade des Fées, they were cornered by riot police who did not let anyone leave. One hundred and sixty people were arrested.
Earlier that day, demonstrators had protested at the Tasché Building, in defiance of a court injunction and the occupation of the university by the police. Immediately surrounded by the police, they moved to the Brault Building. Then, to evade the riot police, they took to the Promenade des Fées where a cordon of riot police blocked them from going forward. Meanwhile, the Gatineau police closed the cordon behind them, totally encircling the protestors and threatening anyone who tried to leave. The arrests began at 11 am and continued until 3 pm. By early evening, everyone had been freed after being given a ticket for obstructing traffic.
Without any other conditions imposed, all those arrested were back to demonstrate this morning, where more than 600 students and others took part. Police violence and intimidation continued. Some students were attacked with pepper spray by the Gatineau police who had ensconced themselves in the Brault building. Each time the demonstration approached a university building, the riot squads of the Gatineau police and the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) blocked their way. When the protest moved to the constituency office of the Liberal MP for Hull on St. Joseph St., again it was blocked. By noon, when the demonstrators had made their way back to the Brault Building, two students had been beaten and injured by Gatineau riot squad. One hundred and fifty students managed to enter the building through a door next to the cafeteria, but were then trapped and arrested by the police. This time, the charges are for mischief and those arrested appear before the judge this evening.
In total, there were more than 300 arrests in two days in the Outaouais which saw the full force of the state used against the students and their allies: the courts which issued injunctions and tried those arrested, the riot police from Gatineau and the SQ, the university administration which is subjecting its professors to a police occupation including letting them be arrested, not to mention the Mayor of Gatineau which put buses from the city's public transit system at the disposal of the police so as to bring in the riot squad and take away those arrested.
The injunctions and other attempts at intimidation will not break the students' determination and resistance. They have succeeded in shutting down the university since the beginning of the week. By this evening, the rector of UQO announced that the university will remain closed until Monday morning. In other words, the students achieved their aim of forcing the Rector to end the police occupation of the University and stop trying to force teachers to teach under police occupation.
(Photos: Andy Crosby/Media Coop)
On April 14, more than 30,000 people marched through the streets of Montreal to show their support for Quebec students in their fight against rising tuition fees. End to end the demonstration was some three kilometres long. Support for the students' struggle and opposition to the anti-social policies of the Charest government was also expressed by people on their balconies and passing motorists.
The event was held to mark the ninth anniversary of the Jean Charest Liberal government's coming to power. Participants came from all walks of life: high school, college and university students, families with children, women, workers, civil servants, lawyers, doctors and representatives of many community groups from all sectors. They demanded a new direction for Quebec, to take it out of the crisis caused by nine years of the Charest government's anti-social policies.
In the face of the students' determination, the Charest government is incapable for providing a political argument to justify its attacks on the right to education. After months of refusing to discuss, repeated disinformation campaigns to present students as "spoiled children" and the government as the champion of the education system, after police violence and court injunctions, now Minister of Education Line Beauchamp is blatantly attempting to divide the student movement. At a press conference on April 15, she announced that she had agreed to sit with the Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ) and the Quebec Federation of College Students (FECQ) to find solutions for better management of universities, but not with the third student association, the Broad Coalition for Student Union Solidadrity (CLASSE). The Minister has specifically excluded the representatives of the CLASSE, saying that, "CLASSE is at one extreme of the continuum of the student organizations' positions," and "has never provided any basis for discussion," which is not true. She added that their spokespersons did not denounce the recent acts of violence, including the ransacking of the offices in her constituency and death threats against ministers. What the CLASSE said, and its view is widely shared, is that it is the government that is responsible for the rise in tensions because of its refusal to meet with students and measures to persecute the students.
CLASSE, which represents 50 percent of striking students, says this exclusion is unacceptable. "As an organization leading the strike, we more than have our place in this dialogue," said co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. "The other two national associations have also denounced this attempt to divide and have announced that they will not negotiate under these conditions," he added.
president of the FEUQ, stated the her organization "is pleased that the
Minister recognizes the
serious management problems in the university system. But the crux of
the problem is the increase in tuition. That's why students are in the
street right now. For us, it is clear that we will address this issue
for discussion at the table."
FEUQ regrets the government's "divide and conquer" strategy, she said. "It is certain that alternatives to university funding and proposals to improve university management have been put forward by FEUQ. But the issue is broader than these proposals and it is important that everyone has a voice. In this sense, the Federation requires that the FECQ and CLASSE be invited to this same table," she added.
The three student associations called the students to continue to mobilize, to renew strike mandates and not give up until the government reconsiders its decision to increase tuition.
CLASSE met in Drummondville on April 15 to take stock. "There was the shale gas scandal, corruption scandals, the constant dissatisfaction with the Jean Charest Liberal government, and this is the opportunity for the entire population to not only say it supports the students, but its time to contest the general direction in which Quebec is headed," said Nadeau-Dubois.
"How are we to comprehend that a government facing countless corruption scandals dares to ask the youth and families to pay 75 per cent more in tuition fees per year? What are the Premier's priorities? Public education or his party's coffers?" said Jeanne Reynolds, co-spokesperson for CLASSE.
The FEUQ, which held its 22nd general assembly on April 15, came out of its meetings more determined than ever. "This government is stubborn and headstrong. It sees students as second class citizens. As long as it has this arrogant attitude, students will stand and will fight against this government that wants to mortgage Quebec's future," reaffirmed Desjardins.
"This is the longest strike in the student movement's history and, if the government expects the movement to run out of steam, it is shooting itself in the foot. Inciting a political conflict is the most base tactic, demonstrating Jean Charest's lack of responsibilty. We will continue our mobilization as long as this government refuses to come to an understanding with the students," she added.
"Even after nine weeks of strikes, the mobilization remains strong. Its time that the government open negotiations," said Leo Bureau-Blouin, president of the FECQ.
The FECQ pledged that the demonstrations would continue so long as the government refuses to discuss a solution to the student conflict.
"We will hold strong until the government changes its attitude. More actions will follow," Leo Bureau-Blouin concluded.
"The minister's announcement will give new life to the
mobilization. This is proof that the student's pressure tactics are
working. I encourage all students to continue the strike and I want to
make sure we do everything to make sure that their sacrifices obtain
results," concluded the FECQ President.
Education Is a Right!
Support the Just Struggle of the Students!
(Translated from the original French by
In a March 23 item published in Le Devoir, two university academics revealed the likely social impact of ending the present tuition freeze in Quebec. Referring to the recommendations of the Parent Report of the 1960s, they recall that the government at that time adopted measures to ensure free education at the college level and to maintain a tuition freeze at the university level, in order to facilitate access to education. The Parent Report even recommended that in the long run, free university education would be a desirable goal. Since then, enrollment in universities has increased significantly until 1992. In some at some universities, increases in enrollment were reported at up to 650 per cent in just over 25 years.
In the early 1990s, the Robert Bourassa Liberal government lifted the tuition freeze and increased tuition substantially. Over a four-year period tuition increased from $581 to $1,630, resulting in a steady decline in university enrollment until 1997. For example, enrollment of students 25 years and older dropped by 22 per cent between 1992 and 1997.
The two academics highlight the contradiction between the official government policies and its actions. The government advocates a knowledge-based economy, stating that a transition to a knowledge-based society must be reflected in an increase in the proportion of university graduates in different disciplines to address the many challenges that must be overcome. According to the academics, "On the one hand, this discourse conveys a public policy which advocates a commitment to improving the education system in Quebec. On the other hand, political decisions are made that could ultimately result in slowing this momentum."
Quebec students are dealing rationally with this social issue to be resolved in a political manner. Ironically, in the Charest government's criminalization of the conflict, the student movement is accused of wanting to deprive some students of their individual rights to attend classes, even though the opposition to the tuition increase is precisely to guarantee the rights of all to higher education. The Charest government, with its 23 per cent "support" from the population according to the current electoral system, has no legitimate mandate to impose such irresponsible measures. The Charest government is imposing on students the same irrationality and lack of social responsibility based on an anti-social outlook which dictates its vision for Quebec. It is according to this outlook that the government accords full impunity to the monopolies, including destroying our natural and human resources, as is the case with Rio Tinto in Alma. The workers and youth are carrying out their social responsibility to uphold Quebec's interests with great honour. However, the present lack of political power to make their objectives a reality means that taking up how to answer the question of "Who decides for Quebec?" with a resounding "We decide!" is more pressing than ever.
(Translated from the original French by TML Daily.)
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