Student Protest Against Tuition Hikes Helps Bring Parti Quebecois to Power in Quebec

Remember the “Arab Spring?”

In Canada, something has just occurred  that might qualify as the “Quebec Summer.” South of the border, the U.S. media is totally unaware.

Seems the Quebec provincial government, run by the Liberal Party, imposed a huge tuition increase on college students. I know next to nothing about Canadian politics, but it would appear that the tuition increase was a foolhardy and arrogant decision. The right to a college education has long been a cause celebre in Quebec, a French province in an otherwise English-speaking country. You might say the right to a college education is a cause with “class” overtones. I recommend an analysis by Richard Seymour, “Quebec’s students provide a lesson in protest politics,” in today’s UK Guardian.

Quebec students, having a long history of organizing and protest,

reacted to the tuition hike as you might expect. The Liberal government, supported by the Quebec Council of Employers, then made the mistake of trying to impose a gag law on the students. The well-organized students made common cause with labor unions.

Long story short, the Liberals, led by Jean Charest, were thrown out of office in elections this week, and replaced by Parti Québécois, a “separatist” party that eked out a victory with 33 per cent of the vote.

Parti Québécois, led by Pauline Marois, will form a coalition government with at least one other minority party. Parti Québécois apparently does not fully endorse all student demands, but appears likely to propose a much more moderate tuition increase.

Mr. Seymour suggests the strength of the students in Quebec may have implications in Great Britain, where college tuition is also a touchy subject, to say the least.

The Quebec tuition fight looks to me like a classic case of the establishment, backed by business, attempting to impose “austerity” on the population.

Take heed not only in Great Britain, but also in the U.S., and everyplace else in the world where establishment interests are trying to preserve privilege and wealth by imposing a new form of slavery on the population under the guise of “austerity.”

— John Hayden

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