May 16, 2012 - No. 70
Blame the Charest Government, Not the
for Anarchy and Violence!
"Impoverishing youth and
families -- that is violent!"; "Resign!"; "Charest, you no longer
• Blame the
Charest Government, Not the Students, for Anarchy and Violence!
• Oppose the Criminalization of Political Life
in Quebec - Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)
• The Mire of the Government's Unscrupulous
• Demand for an Independent Public Inquiry into
the Events in Victoriaville
• Artists Declare Solidarity with Student
• What the Students and People Have to Say
• Demonstrations Continue
Blame the Charest Government, Not the Students,
for Anarchy and Violence!
TML sincerely hopes the Charest government
comes to its senses and does not resort to passing draconian so-called
back-to-school legislation. Such legislation will further deteriorate
the crisis, not lead to a solution.
The Quebec Premier demands that the students submit to
the decision of his government regarding the fee increases, claiming
his is the democratic authority in society, duly elected to make
decisions. This, he suggests, is what it means to provide the crisis
with a political solution. In fact for a premier or government
to be political means to defend the interests of the people and uphold
public right, not private monopoly interests paid for by the public
purse. That, Mr. Charest, was called Divine Right of Kings. Contrary to
the belief of some, Mr. Charest is neither a king, nor divine. The fact
remains that the students distrust what
are called the democratic institutions and this is a political problem.
It will not be dealt with by passing draconian legislation. But Jean
Charest says the students' defiance of his pay-the-rich schemes is a
law-and-order problem and the solution is the courts and the police
and, finally, it will be the jails.
demonstration, Sherbrooke, April 25, 2012: "Democracy thrown
in the garbage?!"
Jean Charest's position is childish. His notion of
democracy is not for "in between elections" as well as "during an
election." His "I am elected to decide and your role is to submit"
definition of what democracy stands for is in contempt of everything
the so-called democratic institutions are said to stand for.
To make speeches according to which the courts and police are an
integral part of making sure democracy is preserved merely exposes that
Charest's democracy is not the people's democracy, as is also the case
with the Harper dictatorship. All Charest's class brothers and all his
class sisters agree with him but this
does not make it right. Just because they wield the power to imprison
the students does not make their notion of democracy any more credible!
This democracy still needs renewal!
The long and short of the Charest government's
incredible foolishness is that the government is squarely responsible
for the anarchy and violence it is fuelling at an increasingly rapid
rate. It should stop it immediately. This demand is not negotiable. It
should stop creating anarchy and violence, and it could do so by
rescinding the fee hikes, setting up a National Commission to discuss
the proposals of the students, as well as the government, professors
and any other interest in the society that wishes to make itself heard
and permitting the public to draw their own warranted conclusions. All
the norms of a public inquiry, information and discussion must be
enforced so that warranted conclusions can be drawn in a professional
manner, not by twisting conclusions to achieve the results pre-decided
by private interests.
The government must stop trying to scam everyone into
submitting to its corruption. It must stop criminalizing political life
and the students. Blame the government, not the students, for anarchy
Oppose the Criminalization of Political Life in Quebec
Students face the riot
police at Lionel Groulx Cegep May 15, 2012 (L) and Rosemont Cegep (R) May 14, 2012. (CUTV)
The failure of the Quebec government to impose its
dictate on the students has now led it to criminalize even further the
political life in Quebec in a manner that harbours serious dangers for
not only Quebec but also the entire country.
The blame for the failure of the democratic institutions
to earn the respect of the students lies squarely with Jean Charest,
his government and the entire ruling class and their media. Those
institutions are focussed on paying the rich and using the state
apparatus to achieve that aim. Their program to usurp all the
assets of society to ensure the rich make big scores is behind the
program to raise student fees and the students have rightly pointed out
Students have called for a reasonable discussion on how
the universities could be managed differently. They explain that the
inquiry they have done thus far indicates no problem of underfunding per
se but rather mismanagement of the funds at the disposal of the
Cegeps and universities. This
mismanagement arises because the people in charge serve private
interests instead of the public interest. Serving the public interest
requires that the right to education be provided with a guarantee so
that society can flourish for the good of all.
Rather than dealing with opposing viewpoints in a
responsible political manner, the Quebec state is criminalizing the
students' right to their own conscience and organizing violent assaults
on them for putting forward their demands. The government is now
threatening to up the ante. While police assaults on students
increase, rumours of other draconian measures it might take are
heightening tensions. Such criminalization of the political life of
Quebec goes against the interests of the entire polity.
In spite of accusations of brazen corruption, the
Charest government continues to hand over wealth produced by the Quebec
working class and people to private interests. It is thus a matter of
great shame that all official circles across the country have joined
the chorus calling for the use of police powers against
the students. This shameful activity includes the establishment
political parties that are either demanding an escalation of the
attacks against the students or running for their lives lest they be
branded with the same brush as the students.
This is not a time to play coy. It is not a time to
pretend to side with the students and their right to education by
dividing them into good students versus bad students. It is not a time
to speak about the need to uphold the democratic institutions against
some alleged lawlessness of the students. Referring to the
slander that the demand of the students is extremist, one student put
it very eloquently: Asking for a profound change in the direction of
the education policy is a political stand not a bloodbath, she said.
Why is the government responding with a bloodbath and then saying the
students are extremists?
CPC(M-L) calls on all democratic political and social
forces across the country to take clear stands on who is responsible
for the escalation of the crisis in Quebec. The students are fighting
with conviction and sincerity yet are met with rubber bullets, tear
gas, truncheons, arrests, beatings and criminalization.
They are even threatened with fines should they refuse to return to
class. How can such things be justified no matter what high ideals are
The Charest government is directly
creating an atmosphere of anarchy and violence with its illegitimate
attempt to raise tuition fees to benefit the banks and private
interests that use skilled workers without paying society for their
education. The government wants students and their parents to pay
exorbitant interest rates to guarantee odious profits for the banks.
The proposed tuition fee hikes have nothing to do with the issue of
underfunding of universities or making them competitive or making
Quebec students equal to their counterparts in the rest of Canada. The
fee hikes have everything to do with paying
the rich and perpetuating a system of class privilege not only in
Quebec but also across the country.
CPC(M-L) also rejects the suggestion that those who
benefit from the government's corruption and pay the rich schemes
should be the ones who decide to use police powers against the
students. It must not pass!
Using police powers to criminalize political life in
Quebec serves private monopoly interests. The media, political parties
and legislatures in the service of these private interests should not
be permitted to deliberate on the legitimacy crisis of the democratic
institutions and blame the students for the shortcomings
of those institutions. The criminalization of politics on the part of
the ruling circles is self-serving and highly irresponsible; their
dogmatic discourse contributes to lowering the level of political life
even further. It is unacceptable to dismiss those who think differently
by marshalling even more police powers. Their
aim to keep the people at bay to prevent them from taking up and having
a say on the problems they and their society face cannot be achieved
because the people demand their say and right to be at the centre of
all aspects of life in this modern world.
The Charest government faces an election in the next few
months and the ability of the Official Opposition to take a political
stand that favours the polity is in serious doubt. The increasing use
of police powers, criminalization of political life and the pathetic
media campaign to create sympathy for Jean Charest
serve to divert the attention of the people at home and abroad away
from the real issues facing them and their society. This includes the
unconscionable use of the state and its institutions to pay the rich
and depoliticize the demands and needs of the people.
CPC(M-L) calls on all democratic forces to oppose in no
uncertain terms the criminalization of political life in Quebec and
Canada by the Charest and Harper dictatorships. Denounce with contempt
the government and media attempts to justify the criminalization of
political life and divert the people from the
issues they face. Stand firmly with the Quebec students to hold the
Charest government to account to freeze tuition fees and not turn back
the clock on the historic mission to give the right to education a
The Mire of the Government's
Victoriaville, May 4-5,
2012: "Charest + cronyism = corruption"; "Arrogance: the 'power' of the
Behaviour: Having or showing no moral principles; not honest or fair.
TML once again denounces the disinformation of
the Quebec government, the media and reactionary forces which divert
from the substantive issue for which the students in Quebec are
fighting. Despite their disinformation, the students are not in the
As of May 14, close to 200,000 students had held general
assemblies and rejected the unscrupulous tentative agreement the
government announced on May 5. The government claimed the agreement was
the product of negotiations between the government and representatives
from the student associations along
with the Conference of University Rectors and Principals of Quebec
(CREPUQ), the Federation of CEGEPs and various labour unions. The
triumphalist statements issued by the Prime Minister and the Minister
Education to sum up the negotiations as well as the brutal police
attacks at Victoriaville most certainly
contributed to the students' anger and rejection of what the government
called the deal. The main reason why this offer was so massively
rejected, however, was because it was a fraud; its aim was to fool the
students into giving up their strike and demands in exchange for a
unconfirmed inquiry into how the universities
are managed and unconfirmed commitment to put savings identified into
eliminating user fees and then the increased fees. It quickly became
clear that the rectors of the universities and directors of the CEGEPs
would in no way agree to such a review and that the students were to
exercise no control over the process.
The so-called agreement kept intact the plan to make the students in
need and their parents pay the banks for their education by indebting
themselves and then stretching out the period during which they pay
interest on the debt under the hoax of making education affordable.
Stopping the fee increases is the sole
demand of the student strikes since mid-February and the students have
proposed measures that make it so.
Two Visions Clash
It is claimed universities are underfunded to the tune
of $620 million. The government says the students must pay and the
students say the money is already in the system. It is misspent.
"One must clearly understand that the resources destined
for teaching are lower than those available to Canadian universities as
recognized in the government's, 'A Fair and Balanced University Funding
Plan' presented in its 2011-2012 budget. This underfunding of Quebec
universities is evaluated at $620 million,
or $3,100 less per student," the president-elect of the board of the
CREPUQ, Ms. Luce Samoisette, Rector of the University of Sherbrooke
"The underfunding of Quebec
universities is recognized
by all, and has been for many years. It is high time the situation is
resolved," Daniel Zizan, president-director general of CREPUQ, added.
Thus there is no disagreement that resources destined
for teaching are missing. The disagreement is over the neoliberal
scheme of the Quebec government to make the students pay higher fees by
indebting themselves and their parents to the banks so as to increase
the profits of the private banks. The banks'
interest payments are guaranteed by the government, meanwhile, the
monopolies receive educated and skilled labour free of cost. This is
The money in the system is also squandered in corrupt
deals and public-private-partnerships that end up as boondoggles.
Students point out that Premier Jean Charest wants "users" -- Quebec
citizens -- to pay for access to higher education, hospitals, etc. in
order to conform to his public-private-partnership (P3)
agreements. It is part of the plan of governments across the country to
continue to take from the public purse to pay the rich. These
governments are unscrupulous. They have no interest in public
institutions, "other than to deliver them to the private sector in
exchange for the contents of a brown envelope and a lucrative
seat in a corporate boardroom at the expiry of a political career," one
student pointed out.
One student explained: "In June 2008, then-Education
Minister Michelle Courchesne [President of the Treasury
Board, who now takes over as Education Minister from Line Beauchamp who
resigned May 14] said she would introduce a bill in the
2008 fall session of the National Assembly
that would tighten governance at Québec universities as a result
of a $750 million real estate disaster at UQAM called Îlot
Voyageur. During each of the student protests that pass the corner
of Berri and Ontario Streets, demonstrators point at the concrete
skeleton that has languished unfinished since
2008 and collectively at 'boo' this symbol of the Education Ministry's
negligence and management of Quebec universities. Ironically, as
the Treasury Board, member of the negotiating committee and signatory
of the current 'agreement,' Courchesne reveals her government's
recurring ineptitude that the student
movement is opposing. They denounced the government's attempt to
its responsibilities to a Provisional Council that would pit students
against university administrations, creating divisions in society
rather than seeking genuine solutions and conciliation."
Government's Unscrupulous Behaviour
The government's offer to the students in the
May 4-5 marathon negotiating session confirms its insincerity in
dealing with the student crisis, its incompetence at managing public
institutions and its totally unscrupulous nature, students say.
Nothing in the "agreement" addresses the tuition fees
nor offers any proposal for reducing the 82 per cent tuition increase
over seven years. The document proposes to end the crisis with the
establishment of a Provisional University Council (PUC), whose mandate
would be to make recommendations to the Minister
of Education by December 31 about "the optimal utilization of
universities' financial resources and show, where they exist, recurrent
savings that can be freed up." There is also no commitment to use these
potential savings to reduce tuition increases. Instead they would be
used to decrease the $500-$800/year user
fees universities have been allowed to charge over the last few years.
It is irrational because these vary greatly from institution to
institution making it an untenable proposal. Furthermore, if no savings
can be "freed," then the status quo prevails. As well, the deal
provisions to prevent universities
from continuing the practice of unilaterally increasing user fees! As a
temporary measure, the deal proposed $125 reduction in user fees to
for the tuition increase during the 2012 fall semester.
Once it became known that the university rectors had no
intention of permitting their affairs to be reviewed, it was clear
there would be no deal. It was all smoke and mirrors.
The proposed 19-person Provisional Council was to
effectively audit universities to flush out administrative spending
abuses. Based on the composition of the Provisional Council (six
university rectors, four union members, two people from the corporate
sector, one CEGEP administrator, two government bureaucrats
and four student representatives) its motivation to scrutinize
university spending practices and recommend budget cuts to reduce
student fees was doubtful from the outset. Before she resigned,
Education Minister Line
Beauchamp was quoted in Le Devoir saying,
"If gains for students are to be had,
they still need to be calculated and are not guaranteed." This opened
the door for the Provisional Council to declare that university
spending practices have been optimized and that no money can be "freed"
from their budgets.
The Degeneration of Bad Faith Negotiations
Based on reports by members of the student negotiating
teams present at the meetings, corroborated by union leaders present,
the government instilled a false sense of urgency to the 22-hour-long
talks that left student representatives without sleep for
two days. At one point during the negotiations, the students were told
that their proposals for the Provisional University Council would be
accepted and that there would be parity in representation. It was
suggested that a moratorium on tuition increases would result from the
Provisional Council's findings. This
created a sense of achievement for student negotiators who understood
they had a deal. Afterwards, the government negotiated with each of
these representatives separately, at a time they were too tired to
think straight. The
government engaged in the unscrupulous practice of modifying a few
lines here and changing a few words there,
effectively diluting the offer and eliminating any hint of its
intention to resolve the dispute in a mutually beneficial manner. Then,
in another flurry of urgency, individual student negotiators were
reconvened to sign the document even though they were not clear that it
no longer resembled what they had previously
This kind of trickery is beyond what are called bad
faith negotiations. It is beneath contempt. It is to the merit of the
youth that they stood as one to reject with all the contempt it
deserves the agreement said to have been reached given the situation.
And for this, they are now being punished even more, with harsher
penalties, with more attempts to force them to submit. It is not only
self-serving. It is cowardly through and through.
What the Student Associations Had to Say
The Broad Coalition for Student Union Solidarity
(CLASSE), representing the majority of the students, rejected the
government offer at its May 10 National Convention. "The only thing the
negotiating committees actually signed was a commitment to present
this offer before the general assemblies so that students could discuss
it and vote on it. We did not go back on our word, since we never
accepted the offer such as it was," Jeanne Reynolds, the spokesperson
for the CLASSE, explained.
"After three months, how can we come back empty-handed?
How could we be satisfied with an offer that is so ambiguous as to its
meaning as concerns reducing the student fees and which does not
respect the issues for which students are on strike in the first
place?" she asked. "The message we are sending the
Minister is that if she wants to see students go back to class, there
will have to be an offer concerning the fee hikes, and not things
concerning user fees or even student loans."
Meanwhile, the member
associations of the Quebec
Federation of University Students (FEUQ) unanimously rejected the
government's offer. "The associations within the FEUQ have unanimously
rejected the offer," Martine Desjardins said. In addition to rejecting
the offer the students demanded clarification about
what the government intends to do, she said, pointing out that the
students reaffirmed their demands.
Following a series of consultations, the Quebec
Federation of College Students (FECQ) announced that the agreement
reached between the student associations and the government was deemed
incomplete by the member associations. FECQ association members
rejected the agreement in its current form by 83 per cent.
Demand for an Independent Public Inquiry
into the Events in Victoriaville
On May 9, the Coalition Against User Fees and the
Privatization of Public Services, requested a independent public
inquiry into the police actions at the events organized by the
Coalition May 4-5 in Victoriaville at the Quebec Liberal Party's (PLQ)
General Council meeting to protest the government's anti-social
"Today, we denounce Jean Charest's management of the
student conflict and the police intervention strategies," the
Coalition wrote in a statement. "For the past three months, this
outrageous mismanagement has aroused increasing anger among students
and social movements. And in response to this
increasing discontent caused by the government's bad faith on this
issue, we witnessed in Victoriaville the escalation of repression
used by the police, repression that nearly cost a protestor his life!
Responsibility for this abuse lies with Jean Charest."
"We have not seen Jean Charest denounce the abusive
violence exhibited by law enforcement with respect to the civil
demonstration. When police fire rubber and plastic bullets, it is
reasonable to ask whom condoned the violence," the Coalition added.
co-spokesperson, Johanne Nasstrom,
addressed the casualties. "There were about 400 minor injuries treated
medics, including open wounds (some requiring stitches), burned eye,
bruising caused by projectiles, breathing difficulties due to gas and
sprained ankles. Is this the message of dialogue that
the government wants to send?"
"[The police] fired so much tear gas that people could
not disperse. They vomited, fell on the ground, lost their sense of
direction. [...] We found ourselves in a situation of total chaos,"
"The Quebec Police [SQ] started
bombarding all the demonstrators and protesters with tear gases,
without warning or order to disperse, ten minutes after the
demonstrators arrived outside the hotel in which the PLQ General
Council was being held," Nasstrom explained. "Once the gas was
launched, the demonstration
broke up, the vast majority of demonstrators fleeing the noxious effect
of the dangerous gas. In order to further disperse the demonstrators,
police gassed excessively for two hours and used plastic bullets,
causing major injuries to some people attending the event."
"Many people were injured by police bullets, some very
seriously. A young man caught one in the eye, suffered a fractured
skull and lost the use of his eye. He had to undergo major surgery,
remains hospitalized in intensive care, although his condition, first
deemed critical, has stabilized. Another young man
suffered a head injury and cerebral contusion. He stayed four days in
intensive care under observation. A young girl suffered a broken jaw
and lost several teeth. She was hospitalized for four days and
underwent major surgery. "
"While the government has asked the student
representatives to condemn violence, Jean Charest does not denounce the
abusive violence exhibited by law enforcement as part of the civil
demonstration. When police fire rubber and plastic bullets, it is
reasonable to ask who authorized the violence. The Premier
of Quebec, rather than making jokes in bad taste in front of some
investors, should denounce police brutality," added Jeanne Reynolds,
co-spokesperson of the Broad Coalition for Student Union Solidarity
(CLASSE), also present at the press conference.
Dominique Peschard, spokesperson for the League of
Rights and Freedoms, a member of the Coalition, said: "The number and
severity of injuries caused by the use of plastic bullets for crowd
control in Victoriaville alone are worthy of an independent public
However, since the beginning of the student
strike the League of Rights and Freedoms has collected a set of
material that warrants investigation focusing largely on the strategic
plans used by law enforcement, including the use of various weapons,
mass arrests and preventative detention conditions of detainees as well
as conditions of release. In addition, the
League calls for the immediate cessation of the use of plastic bullets
and any other similar weapon as a technique for crowd control."
"What we have seen in Victoriaville is a real tragedy,"
said Marie Blais of the Quebec National Federation of Teachers
(FNEEQ-CSN) and co-spokesperson of the Coalition. "After the event,
were shocked, stunned. Nobody thought that this kind of police
operation could occur in Quebec," she said. The
Coalition has also received numerous reports in recent days that many
parents of students are just as shocked as those who were present at
the event. "We cannot, as a society or government, defend freedom of
expression only when it suits us. Rights are there to be protected
precisely when they are threatened, and
this is the responsibility of government," concluded Ms. Blais.
On May 9, delegates of the Central Trade Union of Quebec
(CSQ) at their General Council meeting in Saint-Sauveur in the
Laurentians, adopted a resolution condemning the police violence
used against student protests, including at the May 4 demonstration
Some CSQ delegates were present in Victoriaville and
witnessed the extent of the violence. The police
rushed to gas and charge all the protesters present, with no
justification, they said. To the CSQ delegates, the repressive attitude
adopted by police forces since the start of the student
conflict is very disturbing, troubling and unworthy of a democratic
"Never in the history of Quebec, have we seen a
government be so obstinate and refuse to discuss with its students,
its own youth, preferring instead to send them against heavily armed
police who spared neither batons, nor rubber bullets nor tear
gas canisters and [stun grenades]. The worst is to see
the police make no distinction between the few, easily identifiable,
vandals present and the vast majority of peaceful demonstrators of all
ages," the CSQ delegates said.
The SQ Declares a Job Well Done
In response to the accusations, the next day the SQ,
responsible for the police
deployment in Victoriaville, announced that a review of the evidence
collected "does not suggest that the three most seriously injured
protesters were hit by plastic
projectiles." The SQ spokesman Jean Finet presented his version of
events denying any blame for the situation. In particular, he continued
to keep secret the nature of the set-up to trap the demonstrators. Many
of those present at these events describe what looks to be a plot to
incite violence and
chaos, especially with easily accessible materials like bricks and
objects left behind
the flimsy fences and near the hotel where the Liberal Party
General Council was being held. Finet said the SQ let the protesters
approach the building "for the sake of protecting their right to
freedom of expression." The police have been criticized
in the past for keeping protesters too far away from the targets of
their protests, he said, and this time the SQ wanted to accommodate
them. Totally ignoring the fact that the security forces had removed
garbage bins, flower pots and other so-called
projectiles from the entire town, he answered a question about the fact
that there were construction materials and projectiles on the ground
right next to the convention centre, by claiming that police "cannot
To divert attention from the police brutality and public
perception of a plan to entrap the students, Finet said "1,110 arrests
have been made so far but this number may increase." Even though all
the events since the student strike and protests began show the
students are not engaged in violent acts but peaceful
civil disobedience, Finet shamelessly asked the public to help identify
"the criminal perpetrators."
Artists Declare Solidarity with Student Strike
As the student strike entered its 13th week, far from
running out of steam, the student movement has formed the basis of a
larger popular mobilisation against the policies of the government.
Given the strong relationship between education and culture, more than
500 artists and cultural workers signed a declaration
of solidarity with the Quebec student general strike. Artists and
cultural workers are calling upon the Minister of Culture Christine
St-Pierre to be consistent with her mandate and take a public stand
against the tuition hike.
Text of the Statement
We, the undersigned artists, writers, filmmakers,
musicians, performers and cultural workers of all disciplines, declare
our solidarity with the Québec student strike movement.
The dramatic tuition increase being imposed by the
Liberal government will further threaten equitable access to education
and will bury future generations under massive debt. It represents a
neoliberal policy of austerity economics that targets the social
infrastructure of Québec and reinforces systemic social
For months now, hundreds of thousands of striking
students have taken to the streets, organising mass demonstrations,
holding community teach-ins, performing creative and disruptive direct
actions, to not only resist the tuition hike, but to affirm that
education is a collective right, not a private commodity. Faced
with a government that wants to reduce the production and transmission
of knowledge to the logic of the market, students have clearly refused
and voiced alternatives.
The assault on education is also an assault on culture.
Artists and cultural workers also produce knowledge, they engage in the
vitality of public discourse and ideas. The ideology underlying the
current changes in the universities, of which the tuition hike is only
one aspect, is the same ideology that aims to privatise
and commodify our cultural production.
A society that values education and culture is vibrant
and generous, one that does not become sickly and spiteful.
The struggle for accessible education is central to the
broader struggle for social justice. As artists, we stand behind the
students, just as they are standing in solidarity with current workers'
The Union des artistes, representing over 11000 members,
publicly demanded a moratorium on tuition increases. On the national
day of action, March 22, artist-run centres and cultural organisations
across Québec closed their doors and their members joined the
students in the streets. Many renowned artists, locally
and abroad, have emphatically shown their support for the movement.
With this declaration, we commit to further amplifying
the voice of the student struggle. We declare our steadfast support for
the hundreds of thousands of students who have courageously ignited one
of the largest popular mobilisations in Québec's history. We are
inspired, we are thankful, and we will not let
them fight alone.
We do not pretend to speak for them, nor in their name.
We support, and will continue to support, the collective decisions
taken by members of the CLASSE, the TACEQ, the FEUQ and the FECQ. We
strongly condemn the repression and criminalisation of dissent that is
currently taking place and denounce
firmly the violence of the police, who seem to place the value of
property above and beyond those of living people.
We demand that Minister St-Pierre, of the
ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition
féminine, respects the mandate that was given to her by
protecting that which her own government is currently assaulting. We
ask that Mrs St-Pierre immediately and publicly oppose the tuition hike
support the aspirations of a generation of students who have the future
of society at heart.
To view the signatories: www.artistescontrelahausse.org
For more information:
Contact: Kevin Yuen Kit Lo, 514-686-7253
What the Students and People Have to Say
The government's refusal to discuss and negotiate lies
in the fact that it is imposing private interests onto the Quebec
society, in this case the demands of the banks to get guarantees for
loans given to students with extended periods of repayment. The scam is
not unlike the 40-year subprime mortgage deals which
made the banks oodles of money before they either collapsed and brought
all the people who had to forsake their homes down with them or were
bailed out while the people lost their homes. It also serves the
monopolies which want the government to finance only the kinds of
skilled labour they want so as to be
more competitive on global markets. This is called "investing in
innovation and creativity." This is why the government refuses to
discuss and refuses to listen to the youth who are proposing ways to
finance the education system which is not on their backs to make it an
even better asset for Quebec's youth and the
society they will inherit.
A Reader in Montreal
The provocations escalated when the Minister of
Education called a negotiating meeting for the weekend with many
so-called partners all of whom were there to teach the youth how to
negotiate! Around-the-clock negotiations should be abolished as
only serve to pull scams and trick one's adversaries. Of course
the government forces have the advantage when it comes to trickery and
fraud. The students are not there to engage in trickery and fraud. They
are there to find a real solution to the crisis in education and their
proposals merit serious attention. If the government held a serious
public inquiry into what the education
system requires and if the inquiry were indeed intended to strengthen
the system of education to make it better able to serve the public
good, then those who hold different opinions would not be criminalized.
The entire society would draw warranted conclusions, make reasonable
accommodations and so on. It would
create and strengthen public opinion, strengthen the social fabric,
instead of tearing it apart as the government is doing. Doing its duty
to uphold the public good is not this government's aim.
A Student at the University of Quebec in Montreal
It was incredible to hear Education Minister Line
Beauchamp run to the Liberal Council Meeting after the so-called
weekend negotiations and crow, "Yeah! We made it and did not give an
inch on the fee hike!" That said it all. The so-called negotiations
all a scam to get the youth to "behave" and give up their
fight in defence of their right to education and in defence of the
rights of all.
A Bus driver in Gatineau
The police assault on the youth in Victoriaville seems
to have been prepared and brutally executed with precision. This is
why, in their report, the police say they carried out their
job "flawlessly." What the police are saying is that this is what they
planned and what they planned is what they carried out.
It was a job well done. Shame on them. Shame on their lack of social
responsibility. When policing is no longer to preserve the peace but
engage in combat against civil society, it shows the degeneration which
is taking place.
A Mother who attended the demonstration with her
At the beginning of the strike, Premier Jean Charest and
Education Minister Line Beauchamp argued for tuition increases to
resolve university underfunding. Their offer now claims that
universities have more money than they need, allowing them to squander
millions on severance packages, luxurious promotional
trips and marketing campaigns.
A CEGEP student
The government's offer was aimed at further dividing the
population and improving its position in opinion polls. The media say
that opinion polls show 62 per cent of the population support Charest's
tuition increases. This is not a credible result since the media do not
explain the issues properly. They spread
hysteria that the students buy $4.00 lattes and expensive cell phones
and are spoiled brats. Then they report that an even higher percentage
of people believe Jean Charest is seriously mismanaging the student
crisis. All of it is to create confusion, isolate the youth and
vindicate the police assaults. It is very irresponsible.
A McGill student
The current government has never considered the
proposals aimed at preventing the further privatization of higher
education and lowering of tuition fees. Jean Charest's adherence to a
Private-Public Partnerships (P3) model of good governance has allowed
his government to "invest" public funds into large
infrastructure projects so that the private sector can reap big
profits. The clash is over the kind of society Quebeckers want. The
younger generation vs. the agents of the big corporations.
A Maisonneuve CEGEP student
One of the more interesting ideas that has been on the
lips of students for months and has been absent in public debate, is
the reinstatement of the capital gains tax on financial institutions. A
slight 0.3 per cent capital gains tax on financial institutions (banks,
insurance companies, etc.) would provide sufficient
funds to freeze tuition to current rates with enough left over to
effectively reduce tuition fees. A bit more could provide free tuition
for everyone interested in a higher education. The Charest government
actually cancelled the capital gains tax to financial institutions who
continue to announce record profits, often
in excess of $1 billion, every quarter. A recent Globe and Mail
article, reports that "Canada's debt-to-income ratio was 151 per cent
at the end of " and will probably rise to 160 per cent, "a
similar level to that of the United States just before the financial
crisis." With an increase in tuition rates of 82
per cent over seven years and student loans that are
guaranteed for the banks, the Charest government is adding to the debt
burden of middle class households while helping banks increase their
Jean Charest is handing out billions of dollars in
public funds for his legacy, the Northern Plan, to build roads and
extend power lines to open up northern Québec to the mining and
forestry industry. The government's $277 million subsidy to extend
route 167 north of Chibougamau, that will lead nowhere other
than a future uranium (Matoush project) and diamond mine (Foxtrot
project) is just one example that would alone cover tuition increases.
Excerpt from a student's blog
While the Quebec government is using draconian methods
to deprive the students of their right to conscience and abusing human
rights in the most flagrant way with police attacks, it is also using
"safe" noxious gases despite the experience with the mustard gas used
in World War One and the effects these gasses
have on the human person. This is not progress.
A Reader in Windsor
While Quebec students are truncheoned, with all party
agreement, the political parties in the federal parliament held a
take-note debate to express concerns about human rights abuses in Iran!
It merely proves that they want NATO to bomb Iran and that they do not
care about human rights at all!
A Reader in Windsor
The media say that the population of Quebec stands
behind Jean Charest to pass draconian measures against the youth. This
is not true. Workers are the majority in Quebec and we have our own
experience about how these so-called democratic institutions facilitate
robbery and fraud, using bankruptcy protection
laws, stealing our EI funds and depriving us of our pensions, then
claiming there is no
money while the monopolies reap huge profits. In forestry the retirees
were supposed to receive millions of dollars from the bankruptcy
proceedings and this figure has systematically been dwindled into
nothingness. All of it is done by one institution
or another called democratic. What is democratic about these
institutions escapes me.
As fas as I am concerned, the Charest government and
Jean Charest personally are fully to blame for the crisis and the
students are fighting for the people of Quebec, in defence of education
and that is what the Charest government does not want to recognize.
A Worker in Rouyn Noranda
Every day and night students march in downtown Montreal,
as usual by the applause and encouragement of the residents in
neighbourhoods they march through and from passing motorists. "Charest
and his media are so desperate, they claim that students do not have
the support of the population. The cause they
are defending with such conviction is that of the future of education
in Quebec so this cannot be. Look at everyone greeting us from their
windows and porches!" one demonstrator told TML.
Montreal, May 15, 2012
students protested outside the hotel where Power Corp. annual general
meeting was held. A line of police in riot gear guarded the hotel’s
main entrance while protesters chanted: “We must fight the thieves in
ties” and “Your wealth is our poverty.” (The Link)
Police block protestors'
access to the Jacques Cartier Bridge during the students' 22nd consecutive
night march in Montreal, May 15, 2012. (Michelle
Students on strike block
the Montval Building in Longeuil, May 14. This is the main headquarters
of the Quebec government in the Montérégie. In addition
to housing the
regional offices of the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sport,
the building houses the local Departments of Transportation,
Environment, Economic Development and the Housing Authority and Office
of Disability. (Universitv)
Outaouais, May 14,
On May 14, 2012,
following the resignation of Education Minister Line Beauchamp,
hundreds of students in the
Outaouais took to the streets and held a mass march, with banners that
read "No to the tuition hike!"
and "Charest, back off!" (luttesaouais)
Montreal, May 6, 2012
demonstrations by students are taking place in Montreal under the
slogan, "Manif de soir jusqu'à la victoire." Pictured here, a
demonstration on the evening of May 6, 2012. Two students, a male and a
female, denounced the police. Showing the high level of repression
being used on regular basis, the officers then single out the two
youth, rush through the crowd and violently tackle and arrest them.
While the students chant slogans denouncing the police and demanding
the immediate release of their comrades, further reinforcements of riot
police arrive as well as a paddy wagon. (CUTV)
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