Quebec and the Student Strike

QUEBEC – Students in Quebec have been involved in a widespread explosion of revolt that has lasted so far for three months. At certain points as many as 175,000 have been involved in a student strike against the Charest governments proposal to raise tuition fees.

Photographs from the daily protests in Canada against rising fees

The inspiring three month uprising of students has culminated in twenty-four days of daily protests and the tactic of a student strike being used- a form of protest raised within the UK student movement, but one that never fully materialised.

In similar scenes to those seen in December 2010 in Britain and across the United States, particularly in the Occupy movement, the Police have been brutal in their attempt to crush dissent. Unfortunately, for the police and the Government, this repression has served only to harden the protests. The Occupy movement, as well as the anti-austerity movement in Europe has resulted in an anti-capitalist current within the movement begin to develop.

Today, the National Assembly is meeting to discuss Bill 78 – a law which would see students and Unions pay heavy fines for enforcing the student strike.

(From the ‘National Post’)

“The legislation provides for fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for any individual who prevents someone from entering an educational institution.

The penalties climb to between $7,000 and $35,000 for a student leader and to between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations.

Bill 78 also lays out strict regulations governing student demonstrations, including having to give eight hours notice for details such as the itinerary, the duration and the time at which they are being held.

The legislation would also pause the current academic session for striking students and have it resume in August.”

This Bill shows the desperation of the Police and the state in their attempts to put a stop to the growing movement. We should be clear, if this law passes, it will be a defeat not just for the students of Quebec, but for those across the world. If the law passes in Quebec, we can bet our governments will try the same.

Police protect City Hall along protest route

Next academic year, the NUS will hold a national demonstration against cuts to Higher and Further Education, against the newly raised fees and wider austerity. We must be the ones who generalise the experience from our Canadian, French, Greek and Spanish friends. Will the student strike be a tactic we see materialise in Britain?

N.J.B.

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About essexean

Essex Education Activist Network: coordinating resistance to the marketisation of Higher Education at the University of Essex. A section of the Education Activist Network.
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