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May 26, 2012 - No. 77

Support for the Just Struggle of Quebec Students Continues to Grow

Courage and Determination of Students
Brings Out the Best in Society

One of the Montreal neighbourhoods that every night hold the manifs de casseroles to support  the students and
show rejection of the attacks on civil liberties through the Special Law. (Marie-Michelle B.)

Support for the Just Struggle of Quebec Students Continues to Grow
Courage and Determination of Students Brings Out the Best in Society - Serge Lachapelle
Court Action Filed to Annul Special Law
Montreal's Anti-Mask Law Denounced at Ceremony for Mayor's "Award for Democracy"

Actions in Support of Quebec Students
March to Gatineau from Ottawa - Canadian Union of Public Employees
Ontario Students Announce Support Actions
International Support

Support for the Just Struggle of Quebec Students Continues to Grow

Courage and Determination of Students
Brings Out the Best in Society

Montreal, May 24, 2012

What comes to the fore in recent events is the people's desire to fully participate alongside the students in the struggle for the right to education, which has become the struggle for a modern Quebec that recognizes the rights of all. That participation is growing daily and highlights the people's rejection of the Special Law that criminalizes political life in Quebec. Despite the fact this law imposes onerous penalties and the danger of being assaulted by the police, the law is being defied.

Despite the unprecedented mass arrests the night before, the manifs des casseroles continued across Montreal on Thursday night, as did the nightly demonstration that begins at 8:30 at Émilie-Gamelin Park. Although there was a large police presence, they did not attack the demonstrators so there were no incidents of violence, proving once again that it is the police who incite violence, not those who are expressing their opinions.

There is something deeply moving in seeing thousands of people, from young families with children to elderly people, take over streets across Quebec with their pots and pans to show their support for the students' struggle.

"Yes we are afraid of being arrested, but increasingly, it has become our duty to get out and demonstrate," one protestor said.

This opinion is reflected amongst the thousands demonstrating in Montreal neighbourhoods, including Villeray, Verdun, St. Henri, Rosemont, Notre Dame de Grace and Outremont. In defiance of the Special Law they chanted, "We are more than 50!" "People are angry! Hurrah! Hurrah!" Around 9:00 pm two groups of thousands of people merged at the corner of St. Denis and St. Zotique Streets. There was only one police car in sight. One young protestor said, "It feels good to stand up and oppose the Special Law without being beaten."

It appears that no one listened to Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, who asked demonstrators to protest on their balconies in order not to paralyze Montreal's streets. A few thousand protestors demonstrated outside the Mayor's residence to be sure he heard the sounds of the banging pots.

By 9:00 pm nearly 10,000 people gathered at Émilie-Gamelin Park for the 32nd consecutive night protest. From the start the event was declared illegal by Montreal Police (SPVM). Many protestors didn't hear the announcement, including a journalist from Le Devoir.

Simon Lévesque, a doctoral student in semiotics at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), expressed his concern about the police brutality. "[The police] forget their role as citizens. Is there no ethics course at Nicolet Police Academy? If there is, they must have forgotten it," he said. "We are all on tenterhooks, this entire generation is on edge," he added.

Karine, from Saint-Élie-de-Caxton, said that she participates in at least three events a week. "The Special Law is a major injury to our fundamental rights," she said.

In Quebec City more than 500 people demonstrated in Old Quebec and the Old Port. Once again they received the population's support, including that of the Anglican Bishop of Holy Trinity Cathedral who gave a speech supporting the students.

In Granby there were 500 protestors.

"I'm really happy to see that more people have mobilized since last time," said organizer Tristan Rivard, a student at the Granby Haute-Yamaska CEGEP. "Not only were there more people, but the assembly consisted of people of all ages," he added.

"Your mission is to demonstrate every week here in Granby. See you next week!" said Rivard just before the start of the march.

Placards read: "Wake up! Liberals Out!" "What are you doing with our taxes Charest?" "Bad Law, Bad Faith!" Demonstrators shouted "Charest Out! We'll Find YOU a Job in the North!"

"I'm here because I want to leave something positive for the next generation," said a protestor in his sixties. "It's time for a real change!"

At a time when everyone is condemning the mass arrests, all Minister of Public Security Robert Dutil said was, "In our political system, it is the law that decides what should happen. Otherwise there would be chaos. Is that what the Parti Québécois wants? Should it be the laws of the street that dominate or Parliament?" He could not understand the manifs de casseroles. There are no political police in Quebec, he said.

The students have also come to learn that in this political system, the electoral law does not facilitate their participation in political life. Many students have been going door to door on a campaign to get the Liberals defeated in the next elections. Here is the rebuff these students received from the Chief Electoral Officer Denis Dion:

"If the student associations currently on strike want to overthrow the Jean Charest Liberal government, they must do so in accordance with the laws of Quebec regarding election financing." Students associations have received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from Quebec unions and from outside the province, he said. If they want to campaign against the Liberals they fall under the electoral law. "Donations leave open the possibility that funds coming from other provinces could indirectly pay for political activities in Quebec, where the law has very strict rules: individual donations cannot exceed $1,000. There are limits regarding how much candidates can spend," Dion said.

It is unlikely that this electoral law will prevent students and their allies from continuing their preparations to put forward the call: Defeat the Liberals!

Education Is a Right!
Support the Just Struggle of the Students!

May 24

31st Nocturnal Demonstration Across Montreal

Quebec City

Hundreds of youth, students and their supporters took to the streets again, despite the mass arrests the night before. Despite the calm atmosphere, police made an arrest around 11 pm, at which point a sit-in and discussion as to how to proceed was held. This was another in the series of nightly protests that begin at 8 pm outside the National Assembly.

The demonstration continued with broad support from the local population encouraging the protestors from their balconies as the demonstration passed.

The riot squad made an appearance around midnight, arriving on public transit buses.

Sherbrooke; Longueuil

Granby; Gatineau


May 24 saw a lively protest of students, youth, families, seniors and others in Trois-Rivières. Everyone was equipped with their casseroles which they banged enthusiastically from the start of the action on the steps of the Cathedral of the Assumption at Bonaventure and Royale before heading through the downtown. The protestors received a warm welcome from all those they met. Recents days have seen some 50 to 200 people coming out to express their support for the students and anger at the Charest government's Special Law.


A heavy thunderstorm could not dampen people's desire to take collective action to oppose the Charest government's Special Law and express their support for the students. Hundreds of people marched through the downtown banging on their casseroles, including students and professors from the Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, along with parents, children and friends. They were warmly received by local shopkeepers and passers-by.


Around 8 pm, about 150 people of all ages marched defiantly through the streets of Chambly in full view of the police. A similar march took place in Vieux Beloeil that went to the Jordi Bonnet Bridge which spans the Richelieu River on Route 116.


Around 8 pm, residents of Alma, including several of the locked-out workers from Rio Tinto Alcan took part in a manif de casseroles.

Frederic Lafrance, a student who took part, said, "With all the information that circulates on social networks and on the news media, people are realizing the importance of this conflict. They want to change things and change the government."

According to the Quebec Police, the demonstration took place peacefully and was legal, even though organizers did not provide police with any route for the action.

May 25

The demonstrations across Quebec continued on Friday night and despite a huge deluge that struck various cities in the early evening the numbers continued to swell. A Radio Canada TV reporter pointed out that it would be easier to name the cities and towns which had no demonstrations than to list all the ones that did.


Quebec City

Sherbrooke; Laval

(Translated from original French by TML Daily. Photos: TML Daily, CUTV, c4n4di4n1, N. Lachance)

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Court Action Filed to Annul Special Law

On May 25, student associations, union centrals and community groups filed two actions with the Quebec Superior Court to annul the Special Law. Those involved in the action include the Quebec Federation of College Students (FECQ), the Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ), the Broad Coalition of Student Union Solidarity (CLASSE) and the Quebec Student Roundtable (TaCEQ), as well as the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ), the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), Quebec House of Labour (CSQ) and the Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (CSD). In total, there are some 140 claimants from 70 organizations who are part of the two legal actions.

From left, Leo Bureau-Blouin, president of FECQ, Martine Desjardins, president of FEUQ, and CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois walk into the Montreal courthouse on Friday, May 25, 2012. (CSN)

The two actions are aimed at the suspension of the application of certain provisions of the Special Law. The hearing to consider the actions is scheduled for Wednesday, May 30. One of the actions specifically seeks a judgement to have the entire Special Law annulled on the basis that it is unconstitutional.

In their press release, the spokespersons for the student associations and the unions affirmed, "This law infringes on fundamental freedoms and rights, such as the freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of association. It does not respect judicial guarantees -- its penal provisions are vague and imprecise so as to impose excessively severe punishments. This contemptible law is for purposes of muzzling, crushing and dominating the student and other groups which wish to express themselves publicly."

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Montreal's Anti-Mask Law Denounced at Ceremony for Mayor's "Award for Democracy"

The city's new anti-mask law was denounced along with the Charest government's Special Law and the mass police repression at the first Mayor's Award for Democracy ceremony, presided over by Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay.

The two groups awarded the prize -- the Montreal Women's Centre for Education and Action and the Working Group on Urban Agriculture -- both denounced the "draconian measures" imposed on students to end the conflict and urged the city to better protect democracy. Their remarks were met with vigorous applause from the hundreds of people attending the event at City Hall.

A speaker at the event, the Director of the city's Task Force on Democracy Dimitri Roussopoulos, criticized the city, the Mayor and the Quebec government. He noted that even with the mass anti-austerity protests in Greece, no such anti-mask law has been implemented there, nor have Greek authorities passed a law to restrict the right to protest. His remarks were also warmly applauded by the audience, many of whom wore the red square.

One audience member was escorted out by security when he donned a festive mask to protest the city's anti-mask law.

At the end of the ceremony, a protester climbed on stage to deliver a "Special Prize for Democracy" to the Montreal Police for the 2,000 arrests they have made in 102 days of the student strike.

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Actions in Support of Quebec Students

March to Gatineau from Ottawa

Rally and March to Gatineau
Tuesday, May 29 -- 6 pm

Confederation Park
For information: Facebook event page

Don’t forget to wear your red square!
Not in the Ottawa area? You can still show your support by
signing the petition against Bill 78.

Students, union members, and supporters will hold a rally and a march to Gatineau on Tuesday, May 29 at 6 pm at Confederation Park. Their call reads:

Post-secondary institutions across the country are facing major funding shortages, and students -- already struggling with major debt loads after graduation -- are being asked to pick up even more of the tab.

But students in Quebec are fighting back in impressive style.

Over the past three months, hundreds of thousands of students and supporters have taken to the streets in Quebec, striking in protest of growing debt loads, a proposed 75 per cent hike in tuition fees, and the recently imposed Special Bill 78, which represents a disturbing violation of basic rights to freedom of assembly in Quebec.

Students in Ottawa recently took action as well, blocking access to student administration offices at the University of Ottawa campus in protest of a proposed 5 per cent tuition hike.

CUPE leaders have offered their full support to students in Quebec. To read their statement click here.

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Ontario Students Announce Support Actions

L-R: Benoit Dupuis, Ontario Public Service Employees Union; Sandy Hudson, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario chairperson; York University student Xavier Lafrance, at Queen's Park press conference, May 25, 2012.

A group of students and staff confirmed today at a Queen's Park press conference that Ontario students are planning to take to the streets to support striking students in Quebec to oppose the Charest government's draconian Special Law and in common struggle against tuition fee increases. A rally is planned for June 5. The action is the initiative of the newly formed Student Solidarity Network, comprised of student, faculty and community activists.

The network is calling on the Ontario government to lower tuition costs, stating that since 2006 fees have been raised by as much as 71 per cent. In comparison, they pointed to the fact that Quebec's students are opposing a 75 per cent tuition hike.

"We have to turn back what has happened here in Ontario," said Sandy Hudson, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.

University of Ottawa, May 25, 2012

In related news, University of Ottawa students occupied the university's administration offices on May 24. Anne-Marie Roy, VP Communications of the University of Ottawa's Student Federation in an interview with Media Coop stated, "We are there in protest of the recent tuition fee increase that was adopted at the last board of governors meeting ... The University of Ottawa has yet to approve the budget; it is scheduled to be approved on Monday May 28 and this [protest] is in hopes they will reverse their decision to increase tuition fees ..." She described the tuition increases as follows: "Overall 5 per cent, for certain programs; if they are first year students or returning students, it varies between 4 and 8 per cent, but overall average is 5 per cent." She expressed support for the Quebec students and added "the success of Quebec students is very important and crucial to students in Ontario also but this is nothing new, it is not the first protest we've had here in the University of Ottawa or in Ontario."

Despite the school year being over, expressions of support for Quebec students continue across Ontario campuses.

University of Guelph

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International Support

Quebec Exchange Students Express Their Support

A website called "J'etudie la" (I study there) has been set up where Quebec students on study exchanges around the world can express their support for their counterparts at home and participate in the fight for the right to education. Students are pictured holding up a red square on which is written the country in which they study and how much tuition they pay. There are students studying in Latin America, Africa and Europe. The fact that so many of the students pay no tuition and that some are even paid to go to school shows that the Quebec students' opposition to the tuition hike to defend the right of all to education is both just and reasonable.

The creators of the blog point out, "The idea for this blog came in response to the fact that in Quebec, the tuition increase is often justified by comparing the amount of our fees to those of other Canadian provinces and the U.S., the discussion being 'Everywhere else in Canada and the U.S., they pay more than in Quebec. Quebec must adjust.' As exchange students, we have the chance to meet people from around the world and have a broader view on this issue. The idea is to share this broader vision by creating this blog. This is our way to get involved from a distance in a cause that is dear to our hearts."

The website is: jetudiela.wordpress.com

Chilean Students Declare "We Are All Québécois!"

On May 24, the Students' Federation at the University of Chile issued a statement signed by academics and student leaders to add to the growing worldwide denunciation of the persecution of Quebec's student movement by Bill 78 of the Charest government.

They point out that this law is the most severe such attack since the War Measures Act of October 1970, that it is an attack on fundamental rights and freedoms and as such has been widely denounced by Quebec society.

Their statement outlines the various ways in which the Special Law attacks students and their defence organizations and also presents a threat to everyone's right to express their views and freedom of association.

"The Quebec people, through their active solidarity, have stood by the Chilean people for many years, which is why today we are called to express our strong support for the student organizations and their leaders, with the union centrals and with the people's movement.

"We do this not just out of solidarity but also because we understand that such attacks on liberties in any part of the globalized world is an attack against our own freedoms. The law known as the 'Hinzpeter Act' put forward by the Chilean government has the same repressive and undemocratic outlook.

"The struggle of students, academics and workers in Quebec is also ours."


Students in Taiwan fighting for the right to education express support for the Quebec Students, April 2012.

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