May 31, 2012 - No. 81
Negotiations Continue While Students and
Supporters Continue to Oppose of Special Law
Students and supporters
rally outside the negotiations between the student associations
and the Charest government, Quebec City, May 30, 2012.
Continue While Students and Supporters Continue to Oppose Special Law
• Mass Arrest after First Day of Negotiations
• Student Leader Pleads Not Guilty to Contempt
of Court Charge
• Quebec Jurists Demonstrate to Oppose Special
Discussion on Tuition
• Research Institute Exposes Government's
Bursaries and Loans Scheme
• Charest's Neoliberal Argument
• Using Tuition Increases to Pay the Rich
• Savings from Open-Source Software
in Support of
• Widespread Mass Actions Continue
• Cross-Canada Demonstrations
• Coming Events
Negotiations Continue While Students and
Supporters Continue to Oppose Special Law
Today, the Quebec student associations began a fourth
day of negotiations with the Charest government. Following the third
day of negotiations, Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ)
Desjardins stated, "If the government took the time to look at the
proposals made [Tuesday], it is very possible that an agreement will be
reached." However, she added, negotiations could carry on for some
"After 16 weeks of strikes, more than 108 days, let's take the time to
do things right. We'll be sleeping in Quebec City again tonight," she
said. She pointed out that she felt "no pressure" from the government
to come to a resolution that evening, in time for a social event
Premier Jean Charest convoked for all his
The rumour that the government put forward an offer to
tuition fee increase by $35, bringing the increase to $219 from $254
has been confirmed. The government wants to offset the reduction by
lowering the tax credit applied to tuition fees.
"The response to the $35 was unanimous. It was put on
the table and
automatically rejected by the student associations," said Desjardins.
Rally outside the
negotiations in Quebec City,
May 30, 2012.
She revealed that Education Minister Michelle Courchesne
to further reduce the tuition fee increase. "For our part we refused
and we remained at the table to discuss; we'll be going back. I think
both sides are ready to work," she said. Quebec Federation of College
Students (FECQ) President Leo
Bureau-Blouin said, "We are not in the $35 range anymore."
The student leaders have put forward a counter-offer and
other proposals. "New elements were brought [to the table] [Tuesday]
night. Those elements surely put negotiations on hold yesterday. I
imagine that the government worked on this offer earlier this morning.
And now, we're starting from there,"
said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson for the Broad Coalition for
Student Union Solidarity (CLASSE).
FEUQ President Desjardins said she still had "dozens" of
to submit. As for the president of the FECQ, Bureau-Blouin said the
associations are looking at "new scenarios." More proposals are
expected. He reiterated that any solution must cover the tuition
increase, the "peripheral issues" -- for example
university management -- and the Special Law. The student leaders are
asking for at least one portion of the law to be suspended.
"We are confident that the negotiation process can lead
satisfying offer. We are hoping for a complete solution, we don't just
want to talk about tuition fees. We want a political solution to a
conflict which has already gone on too long," said the secretary of the
Quebec Student Roundtable (TaCEQ), Paul-Émile
Speaking to journalists, Education Minister Michelle
she "remains in the same mode of wanting to find solutions." "I can
tell you we are very determined here," she said. She didn't want to
speak on the compromises the government is willing to make. "We are
working very hard. I will not discuss
any proposals with you."
In the morning, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand
repeated that a
reduction to the increase as the students demand is possible only if it
is of "zero cost" to taxpayers and public finances. It is wrong to
conclude that the government "folded" on this issue, he added.
This logic implies that the satisfaction of the
demands will be to the detriment of the whole society. It is part of
the anti-social outlook that permeates all of the Liberal government's
policies where education, health care and social programs are
considered a cost and not an investment that will open
the path to society's progress to recognize the rights of all.
Education Is a Right!
Support the Just Struggle of the Students!
Mass Arrest after First Day of Negotiations
On May 28, after a peaceful demonstration in the streets
City, 200 protestors entered the building where the
student associations in negotiations with the government to express
their support. A few minutes
after their arrival, the police surrounded and proceed to arrest every
demonstrator inside including
two negotiators for the Broad Coalition for Student Union Solidarity
(CLASSE) -- a total of 84 people. The two CLASSE negotiators were
invited by security guards into the building to avoid the mass arrest
but refused, saying that either they would be arrested with everyone
else or no one would be arrested. Everyone
was arrested under section 500.1 of the Highway Safety Code and are to
be fined up to $500. They were taken away on Quebec City Transit buses
and released a short while later.
Student leaders unanimously condemned the arrests.
Desjardins, President of the Quebec Federation of University Students
said: "Was this planned? Was this an
act to put pressure on the negotiations? We think it's deplorable."
Student Leader Pleads Not Guilty to
Contempt of Court Charge
On May 29, co-spokesperson of the Broad Coalition for
Student Union Solidarity (CLASSE) Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois appeared in
court for his
contempt of court charge, to which he pled not guilty.
The charge is related to an interview broadcast on
May 13 in which Nadeau-Dubois said it was legitimate for students to
hold pickets to enforce their strike vote, and consequently, block
those who had obtained court injunctions against the pickets from
Maxime Martel-Roy, lawyer for Laval University student
Morasse who filed the complaint, said he is seeking a prison sentence
if Nadeau-Dubois is found guilty. The maximum sentence is one year in
prison. He will be tried on September 27 and 28.
"The only thing I can say is that I find it pretty sad
reached the level of tension where a student wants to put another
student in jail," Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said outside the court.
Quebec Jurists Demonstrate to Oppose Special Law
Hundreds of Quebec jurists took to the streets of
Monday, May 28, to express their rejection of the Special Law as
officers of the court and experts of law. In a statement released
announcing their action, the lawyers wrote in part:
"From the Montreal Courthouse [we are making a] silent
march to Émilie-Gamelin Park. We will be dressed in our very
best to remind
of the inherent dignity of our profession and our system of justice
based on the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms.
"Our march is intended to express our dismay at the
adoption of a
special law that we consider to be disproportionate interference with
freedom of expression, association and peaceful protest. We also wish
to express our concern at the loss of trust (predictable) of a
growing number of citizens in our judicial
institutions following the adoption of this Act.
"We are lawyers: we intend to meet the requirements of
laws. Our itinerary was presented to the Montreal Police Department
more than eight hours in advance.
"We are officers of the court: some of us will be at the
of the battle to invalidate the provisions of the Act that appear
incompatible with our Constitution and our Charter of
Rights. We believe this will help to restore citizens' shaken
confidence in the judicial institutions."
In an interview with Radio-Canada, Marylène
Robitaille, one of the
organizers of the action, said it was important for lawyers to express
their concern. She also noted that that it is particularly
that the law obliges everyone to inform of any event of 50 or more
people eight hours in advance, which renders "spontaneous
Another lawyer, Rémi Bourget, elaborated on this
point: "Imagine the
drumming that happens on Mount Royal -- it's technically illegal. The
busking at the Old Port -- also technically illegal. When the
Italian or the Portuguese soccer teams win at the European Cup and
spontaneously take to the streets, that
too is illegal. So [the Special Law] really attacks the rights of
The lawyers are also concerned about how the Special Law
associations responsible for any of their members "who may be violating
the law, a provision is not without consequences," namely that the
government can "deprive them of dues, suspend the association, remove
office equipment," Robitaille said.
"We're talking about groups that represent their members, but that
doesn't mean they control them," she added, noting that the same
provision also applies to workers' unions.
Discussion on Tuition Fee Increases
Research Institute Exposes Government's
Bursaries and Loans Schemes
Researchers with the Institute of Research and
Information (IRIS) have exposed how the Charest government's claim
schemes for bursaries and loans not only fail to offset the tuition
increase but in fact intensify the privatization of post-secondary
education in Quebec.
Marc Daoud explains in an article entitled
"Parent-Students and the
Hike" the Institute of Research and Socio-Economic Information (IRIS)
exposes the Charest government's claim that tuition increases are
offset by an equivalent increase in bursaries for low-income students.
The measure is being pushed as a
"fair" means to assist low-income students and thus have students
capitulate to the tuition fee hikes.
However, Daoud points out that the arrangement actually
seriously penalize low-income students. Each student that receives a
bursary must declare it as income for tax purposes, although the
bursary is tax-free. However, the increase in total income caused by
the bursary affects calculations for other benefits
that students receive. Daoud notes that for students living with their
parents, the impact is minimal. "But for students living as a couple
with children, the situation can get very difficult," he writes.
"Take, for example, a student living with two young
children and a
spouse earning $30,000 ($15 per hour). The student in question receives
an $8,000 grant. The two children go to unsubsidized daycare and
therefore are entitled to a tax credit for childcare services. The
following table describes the impact of
the grant payment on tax benefits:
Fiscal Impact of the Grant
After Tuition Increase
Reduction to Social Benefits
Solidarity Tax Credit
Childcare Tax Credit
Fiscal Impact (Grant Reduction)
Fiscal Impact % on
"Through this taxation trickery, the government will
recovered $1,800 of the $8000 grant it issued to the parent-student, or
22 per cent of the grant. In effect, the work premium, the solidarity
credit as well as the childcare tax credit are all reduced," the
article points out.
In the above example above, a student would receive a
but the government would recoup $2,440 of the grant by reducing that
student's tax credits, writes Daoud.
"It is therefore false to claim, as some do, that
would be fully offset by increased bursaries for everyone who receives
greater bursaries," the article concludes.
In a similar vein, IRIS researchers Eric Martin and
Tremblay-Pepin point out that these financial aid and loan schemes for
students accompanying the tuition increases have another purpose
besides their supposed aim of equalizing access to education. They are
also instruments of the privatization of the
financing and purpose of public institutions of learning. This
transformation is part of a strategy to revive the economy that has
come to depend on the growth of personal debt and on the fixation with
offering training for the "human capital," (highly skilled labour)
demanded by businesses. This operation, which
comes at a time of structural crisis in advanced economies, risks
introducing a new "speculative bubble" of student indebtedness where
students and households will pay the price, they write.
The work of these researchers indicates that only is the
diverting the social wealth produced by Quebeckers into private hands,
depriving the education system of funding, but that its schemes to
supposedly help students overcome its tuition increases are a means to
skin the cat twice and thrice, by
further indebting students to private banks and making them part of a
broader scheme to increase private control over post-secondary
education. This is totally against the duty of governments to ensure
that the public interest is upheld and the people's well-being is
provided with a guarantee.
1. Marc Daoud, "Les
parents-étudiants et la hausse," IRIS, May 25, 2012.
2. Eric Martin and Simon Tremblay-Pepin,
"L'endettement étudiant: une bulle spéculative?" IRIS,
March 27, 2012.
Charest's Neoliberal Argument
Charest frames the anti-social offensive to pay the rich
as a matter
of survival for the Quebec nation. His government's schemes to pay the
rich are a matter of the existence and survival of the Quebec nation,
he says. In this way, he called the decision to raise the tuition fees
an "acte fondateur" -- a foundational
act -- for Quebec without which this small nation of only 8 million
people could not survive in North America.
The fee hike is part of an "acte fondateur," he claims,
Quebec needs an education system which is world class. According to his
self-serving argument, a Quebec where the tuition fees are low will not
attract capital and cannot attract the best brains in the world because
it won't be able to pay for them
and thus it won't be considered "world class."
Charest presents liberalized tuition fees as a signal
Quebec to the world that Quebec is the place for foreign capital to
invest. If he does not do this, Quebec has "no appeal," he argues.
In this way, the Harper and Charest and other provincial
are not just permitting the plunder of the natural resources and
forcing down the remuneration paid to workers. They are putting
everything at the disposal of the global monopolies and this is
presented as a "foundational act" -- a matter of
prosperity and therefore national security, i.e., the new reason of
state. This self-serving and unprincipled logic underpins the attempts
to insinuate that various forces and organizations which fight for the
rights of their constituents, pose a danger to the country's interests
and security. It is directed against those who
objectively oppose the neoliberal agenda specifically, which is why the
Charest government has tried to peg the Broad Coalition of Student
Union Solidarity (CLASSE) as an organization to be slandered and
Stephen Harper and his Ministers frame the same
arguments in the
language of Canada becoming a major power in the world while Charest
frames it in the language of the survival of the small nation of Quebec.
A reader in Montreal
Using Tuition Increases to Pay the Rich
In addition to forcing Quebec students to hand over
millions in interest payments to the banks, the Charest government's
"50 cents a day" argument also seeks to hide another scheme to pay the
rich. Tuition increases free up hundreds of millions which the
government diverts education funding to
pay the rich in other ways.
The $1,778 more which each student will pay in tuition
increased revenue for universities. The experience in Ontario has been
that in the name of eliminating the debt and deficit, governments cut
back the amount they transfer to universities and this is replaced with
increased tuition. Forcing individual
students to fund a greater proportion of post-secondary education
system "frees up" hundreds of millions of dollars of public monies to
use in pay-the-rich schemes: paying interest on the provincial debt to
the banks, tax cuts for the monopolies, etc. They may even use it to
claim they have found savings and have
a surplus just before an election! You never know what kind of
treachery is in store when private interests, not social
responsibility, guide such decisions.
This is just another reason why the students in Quebec
the public interest with their opposition to tuition increases and
should be fully supported.
A reader in Windsor
Savings from Open-Source Software
In an May 27 open letter to Education Minister and Chair
of the Treasury
Board Michelle Courchesne, the Professional Association of Open-Source
Software Companies (APELL), the Quebec Federation of Open-Source
Industries and Communities (FQCIL) and FACIL, for the Collective
Appropriation of Free Software
suggest that using open-source software (OSS) in Quebec could reduce
the tuition increase by more than 50 percent.
Following the government's decision in March to migrate
government workstations to Windows 7 at a cost of $ 1.4 billion, the
three associations point out that the in the education sector alone,
the estimated cost to migrate 500,000 desktops using proprietary
software is $904 million.
The three associations, experts in information
communications, argue that the use of free software for the migration
project would save more than $450 million and would reduce the tuition
increase by more than 50 percent.
"The use of OSS in the education sector would be not
economically efficient, but would extend a hand to future
generations. The values held by open source software are based on
work, transparency, sharing and collaboration. Curiously enough, they
coincide with the values held by the student
movement and Quebec society," says Cyrille Béraud, FQCIL
"This project may be able to help resolve the current
will help Quebec to escape the clutches of the multinationals on our
information-technology systems. To build a modern and open state of the
future begins with education. Free software in
education will give future generations the
tools to build tomorrow's prosperity," says Daniel Pascot, FACIL
Open Letter to Michelle Courchesne
Ms. Minister of Education and Chair of Treasury Board,
At the end of March, while the student movement against
tuition fees was taking off, your government approved a comprehensive
plan to migrate all government workstations and those of health care
education agencies to the proprietary software of the multinational
Microsoft (Windows 7/Office
The cost of this migration has been evaluated by your
services at $1.4 billion. It covers 738,000
workstations of which nearly 500,000 workstations are for the education
The cost of this project for the education sector alone
is estimated at $904 million.
The additional revenues provided by the tuition fee
increase for the 2012-2017 period total $964 million.
Thus, in fact, increased tuition fees for the 2012-2017
cover mainly expenses -- recurrent and without added value -- in
migration costs and software licenses, which are imposed on you by a
Yet, essentially, the necessary software for
workstations, in the
collaboration and, more generally, education of students from primary,
secondary, CEGEP and universities are available free on the Internet:
they are free software.
We, heads of companies specialized in free software,
professionals of new information technologies and communications,
affirm that the use of OSS in the education sector, instead of
proprietary software, would allow for savings of over $450 million and
would cover half of the tuition fee increase.
We not only want to say that the use of free software is
suited to the context of education, but it is also desirable since the
values of sharing, community, ethics and transparency specific to open
are also those that our education system wishes to convey.
Free software will give new generations the tools to
shape and build
the Quebec of tomorrow. They allow them to appropriate modernization
and to build a freer, fairer and more prosperous Quebec.
Free software will liberate Quebec from the control
exerted by the
multinationals on our information technology systems, strengthen the
expertise and the ability to export of Quebec companies, and help build
the economy of the future: the knowledge-based economy.
The future of our culture, arts, knowledge, the vitality
language will be determined by our ability to collectively take
ownership of new information technologies and communications. This
begins with education.
Freedom, work, collaboration, sharing and transparency
values at the heart of the development of free software in the world.
These values coincide with those of today's youth of
Without presuming to think that this proposal could
current crisis that affects Quebec, we remain convinced that a proposed
50 per cent reduction of increased tuition fees could contribute to its
Association of Open-Source Software Businesses, Benoît des
Ligneris, Ph. D., President
FQCIL, Quebec Federation of
Open-Source Industries and Communities , Cyrille Béraud,
Appropriation of Free Software, Daniel Pascot, President
Actions in Support of Quebec Students
Widespread Mass Actions Continue
In more and more cities, town and villages across Quebec
the casseroles ring out at
every night at 8:00 pm. In Montreal and around the island, rallies are
held in Repentigny, La
Prairie, Beloeil, Longueil, Laval and elsewhere. Across the province
concert of casseroles can be heard from Matane to Gatineau, and
throughout Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières
Nocturnal Demonstration Across Montreal
33rd Consecutive Nocturnal
Demonstration in Montreal
Top to bottom, L to R:
Halifax, Tatamagouche, Wolfville.
March from Ottawa to Gatineau
On Tuesday, May 29, more than 1,200 people of all ages,
students, youth, workers and families marched from Ottawa to Gatineau
support of the Quebec students and to condemn the Special Law. The
demonstration was organized by the University of Ottawa Student
Federation (FEUO), the Canadian Federation
of Students (CFS), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the Canadian Union of Postal
Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Autoworkers (CAW). The protestors
crossed the Alexandra Bridge in defiance
Special Law, which they underscored with chants such as "We Are More
than 50!" and "Down with the Special Law!" In front of the Gatineau
courthouse, speakers condemned the Special Law.
asking us why we're protesting, the rest of the world is asking why
you've let this go on so long!
On May 25, more than thirty
and workers took a bold stand in support of Quebec students and against
the Charest Liberals' war measure, Bill 78. The action began with a 5
pm rally at Memorial Park organized by the
Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) and addressed by their
representatives and by the Graduate Students Association (GSA) of
Laurentian University. Members of CUPE, the Ontario Public Services
Union (OPSEU), PSAC and Canadian Auto Workers/Mine Mill
also took part. Leaflets
information about the struggle of the Quebec students and Bill 78 were
handed out to passers-by. Another action is planned for this Friday,
commencing in front of the Sudbury Arena on Elgin Street at 4 pm.
On Saturday, May 26, activists responded to the call of
Valley Peace Group to rally in support of Quebec students and all
affected by the Charest government's war measure, Bill 78.
Speakers from the Comox Valley Peace Group, the Council
Canadians, the North Island Compassion Club and the Marxist-Leninist
Party expressed their support for the legitimate demands of
Quebec students for a political solution to the conflict between the
students and the government over tuition
fee increases. They related what is taking place in Quebec to the
criminalization across Canada of virtually anyone who raises their
against the neoliberal agenda, including the federal government's
attacks on the rights of the workers
at Air Canada, Canada Post and now CP Rail, as well as the situation
facing BC teachers and other public sector workers. Participants
pledged to do their part to counter the disinformation of the monopoly
media about the unfolding events in Quebec.
Campbell River, Courtenay and District Labour Council
in Support of Quebec Students
The following resolution was passed at the monthly
meeting of the Campbell River, Courtenay and District Labour Council
(CRCDLC) on May 28:
"Whereas Quebec students are engaged in a fight with the
government against tuition fee increases and to defend their right to
"And whereas the Charest government, having refused to
with the students, has passed legislation, Bill 78, which suspends
civil liberties in Quebec and criminalizes the students and everyone
who assists them;
"And whereas the movement in Quebec against the
of the Charest government involves the students, workers from all
sectors, young and old who have mobilized in unprecedented numbers in
defiance of this unjust law;
"Be it resolved that the Campbell River, Courtenay and
Labour Council stands with the students and workers of Quebec in the
fight against the tuition fee hikes and against the suspension of civil
liberties of everyone in Quebec and calls on all affiliates to do the
"And be it further resolved that this message of support
solidarity be communicated to the student centrals, FECQ , FEUQ, CLASSE
and the trade union centrals, CSN, CSQ and FTQ."
Friday, June 1 -- 4:00 pm
Sudbury Arena, 240 Elgin St.
Event in Solidarity
Quebec Students and
to Oppose the
Criminalization of Dissent
Saturday, June 2 --
Kitchener City Hall and Neighbourhood
Wednesday, June 6
-- 8:00 pm
Bring pots, pans, casserole dishes, wooden spoons.
Dufferin Grove Park, 875 Dufferin St.
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