May 23, 2012 - Summer is unofficially here in Montreal and the flowers are budding, the trees are green, and the usual crazies are hitting the streets.
Montreal is hitting the news these days because of its student strike. The strike started in February, a response to a new law imposing higher tuition of $325/year over 5 years (ie. $1,625 total increase over that period). Not unreasonable some would say considering Quebec has had the lowest tuition in Canada (the reason I came to Montreal myself). Quebec has long subsidized the cost of education with 1) the highest tax rates in the country and 2) equalization payments from the rest of the country. Considering these facts and the new belt tightening across the board (including Unemployment Insurance) it seemed reasonable that tuition rates, which have been frozen at current levels since 1994, would go up.
Instead, about 1/3 of the province’s students went on strike. Some student leaders have even demanded that education should be free. As the strike has gone on it has become louder, bigger, and more violent. The Charest government replied with Bill 78, an emergency law aimed at limiting freedom to protest. This has totally backfired and the usual suspects have climbed on the student bandwagon; the unions, sovereignists, anarchists, communists. The Parti Quebecois (the main opposition party) has of course jumped right in there. It has become the usual circus that only Quebec seems capable of.
Why they march:
Key student leader – why pay for anything? That’s for other people.
The view from outside the province – yikes!
More balanced reporting from one of Quebec’s best journalists;
It’s a mess and the average Montrealer is pissed off with both sides; the government for totally screwing up negotiations, and the students for 1) being unreasonable and 2) bullying, vandalism, and just general fuckery. The people are on the side of the government because of this alone. One could argue that both sides deserve each other. In the meantime, it promises to be a long summer for the average Montrealer.
Tags: 1, Montreal, PHOTOS