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May 22, 2012 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Today marks the 100th day of student protests against tuition hikes in Quebec.

At 2pm Eastern Standard time another demonstration (Facebook) took to the streets.

Since the last FPP education minister Line Beauchamp has resigned and the provincial Liberal government has brought in special legislation in an attempt to quell the protests. Amoung other things the new legislation, Bill 78, suspends the semester in affected CEGEPs (junior colleges) and affected faculties of universities (jpeg, in French but largely understandable if you know Francophone = French speaking CEGEPs Anglophone = English speaking CEGEPs), requires demonstrations of more than 50 people to be registered with the police more than eight hours ahead of time and promises stiff fines to those who break the new law.

Meanwhile, the signature red squares worn by protesters were visible on local musical heros Arcade Fire as they performed with Mick Jagger on SNL, and again on the lapels of artists at Cannes. An open letter entitled Un Grand Tonnerre, written by University of Montreal Philosophy instructor Christian Nadeau, is making the rounds in the form of a video (scroll down for translation). Confrontations during the daily demonstrations continue (youtube). With the population split on whether or not tuition should rise and (more so) on the new law, some citizens have begun to show support with a nightly manifestation des casseroles (pots and pans demonstration).

So why is this going on in Quebec? Many point to the activist history of the people of the province, and in particular the legacy of the Quiet Revolution, which, in the 1960s, revolutionized life in the Quebec, including the promise of free education for all. In addition there is the long history of fighting for language rights in Quebec, not the least of which is the still controversial bill 101.

With festival season coming up and no one backing down it looks like this summer will have even more action on the streets than usual.
posted by Cuke (106 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nothing like passing a law against assembly to put some life back into a protest movement!
posted by kaibutsu at 12:05 PM on May 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Bonne chance à tous!
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:08 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't understand this at all. With the impending baby-boomer-retirement tidal wave, you'd think that a sane government policy would get as many young people as possible trained up for the best jobs out there, so that those kids would be paying as much tax as possible as soon as possible and for as long as possible.

Seriously, the moment you're willing to admit that network effects and long-term goals exist at all, subsidizing tuition is like subsidized water utilities. It pays for itself.

So why is this going on in Quebec?

One question I have is, why isn't it happening everywhere else?
posted by mhoye at 12:11 PM on May 22, 2012 [31 favorites]




One question I have is, why isn't it happening everywhere else?
posted by mhoye at 12:11 PM on May 22

Quebec understands that education is a public good, and not a profit driven institution. That's why they'll still have universities in ten years, when the rest of the country is left with diploma mills and technical institutions.

Some of that is cultural, like the post suggested, they articulated this very clearly during the quiet revolution.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:19 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow, I didn't know that the Mountain Day wake up call had some actual history behind it.

As for why this isn't happening else where... the average Joe in other cities thinks of higher education as something to be earned by the right people. That anyone, let alone the wrong people, could just walk in is bad enough. That anyone could walk in and get an education on 'their' tax money is worse.

It could also be that they think they're money is being funneled directly into the modern day equivalent of Animal House. All play and no work makes lots of entitled brats to walk all over my lawn blah blah blah.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:19 PM on May 22, 2012


I've seen this image making the rounds lately among my Quebecois friends.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 12:20 PM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


'their' not they're. Doh.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:20 PM on May 22, 2012


I don't understand this at all. With the impending baby-boomer-retirement tidal wave

Except the baby boomers can't afford to retire. So they aren't. That's why there are no jobs for these people, even after they get through college.
posted by Naberius at 12:21 PM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


As a graduate student from Ontario, I'd love to join the fight against high tuition. Unfortunately I don't have the time, I have two jobs and school-work to concentrate on.
posted by Fizz at 12:24 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]




I don't understand this at all. With the impending baby-boomer-retirement tidal wave

Except the baby boomers can't afford to retire. So they aren't. That's why there are no jobs for these people, even after they get through college.
posted by Naberius at 12:21 PM on May 22 [+] [!]



Two things, actually. The first is that unemployment rates are scary high among young people, and old people are coming back to work.

The second though, is that these jobs are being replaced with shittier ones. Universities are hiring temps, sessionals, or not hiring at all. Where we used to have career jobs with potential for tenure, now universities are creating tiered wage systems with only a special few making it permanent, let alone tenured.

It really is an all out attack to make universities profitable, and not a public good. Reduce public funding, reduce the power of faculty, and let profit minded administrators run the show. Cut arts, crank up tuition, promise jobs in the trades or MBAs. (Nothing against trades or MBAs, at all, I promise. Just not at the cost of the other programs, please.)
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:28 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The longer protests are mostly restricted to Montreal and the surrounding areas, not Quebec as a whole. I think there was a 1 day strike in Quebec City.

Metafilter's own zadcat has had many interesting arguments about the strike in her Montreal news blog.
posted by jeather at 12:29 PM on May 22, 2012


"As a graduate student from Ontario, I'd love to join the fight against high tuition. Unfortunately I don't have the time, I have two jobs and school-work to concentrate on."

Too bad you're paying the price for Ontario student leaders' (in)action in the 60s and 70s.
posted by docgonzo at 12:29 PM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


For those who can't be with us in the streets, CUTV (Concordia University Community TV) has been doing a stellar job with the live coverage. You can watch the stream and the twitter feed here. Biased, sure, but leaning the right way!
posted by Freyja at 12:29 PM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


From the article there's a plan in place to raise tuition to $3,793 a year over the next five years?

I realize this is a huge jump, but I pay that in USD each semester. And this is at a fairly affordable state school in Wisconsin.

Granted, I think the whole cost of higher education is broken and horribly overpriced. When I went to school in Ohio the tuition was capped, but colleges ended up raising the price of staying in the dorms which was mandatory for 2 years.

I have sympathy, but it could be a lot worse.
posted by graxe at 12:32 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stay safe if you are in Quebec, my friends on that side of the country have told some pretty horrific stories about the police violence.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:32 PM on May 22, 2012


I'd imagine the 75% tuition increase all in one go is definitely not helping. Despite the fact that the average tuition amount is still pretty favorable compared to other provinces, it's dumping the frog in boiling water rather than letting it sit in the pot as it heats up, to use a metaphor with both animal cruelty and an unintentional french slur. We went through this in Alberta in the 90s, but the rate increases per year were in the single or very low double digits. You got well-intentioned token outrage from student bodies, but nobody was burning anything down. You might chalk that up to a cultural difference, but students are pretty lefty, even in Alberta.

And la loi spécial is either extremely dumb reactionary nonsense or outright provocation.
posted by figurant at 12:34 PM on May 22, 2012


Whoa. Just saw this on Twitter - an Instagram pic of the crowd on the streets of Montreal right now, shot from above. The understated caption: "That's a lot of people."
posted by gompa at 12:40 PM on May 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


graxe, this is the slippery slope in action. Tuition is being raised $3.8k now, so it can be raised more every few years afterwards. Compromise at the beginning makes it easier to compromise later on.

Example. Barring 1995-2000, from 1990 tuition at the university of California has gone up every five years, like clockwork.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 12:42 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not sure how the suspension of civil liberties like freedom of assembly is even remotely connected to the issue of tuition fees.

Charest should have just called a snap election. Let the electorate decide how to handle this mess.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:43 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


And on closer reading, I see that the increases are a bit more spaced out than that. But the end point is a big visible number that students can easily compare to what they currently pay. The Alberta goverment did a better job of obfuscating that, or so it seemed at the time.

And holy god that is a lot of students.
posted by figurant at 12:44 PM on May 22, 2012


Those aren't all students.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:45 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Charest should have just called a snap election

Yes, but then he would have had zero chance at reelection. Not that this clusterfuck has improved his numbers any.

And holy god that is a lot of students.

And non-students. I know people who have long since graduated who are there.
posted by jeather at 12:46 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man. That pic is about two blocks away from where I used to live. Just seeing it like that opens up my heart chakra a million degrees. God, I miss that town...
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:48 PM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's really strange how little attention this is getting in the Canadian media. Nothing on the front page of the G/M, nothing in the other PostMedia papers...
posted by KokuRyu at 12:49 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Orange Pamplemousse, welcome to everywhere. Lots of states in the US are consistently lowering funding for state college education and colleges are in turn raising tuition.

College education funding needs to be fixed for certain everywhere. But I can't see this as a worst case example, an extremely bad one though, yes. And I have to agree, California as a state education system is pretty messed up right now.
posted by graxe at 12:53 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Streamed in real time from TVA (TV news) helicopter.
posted by bru at 12:53 PM on May 22, 2012


Education is a public good should be shouted from the rooftops in every city across the country.

And coverage of the demonstrations is abysmal outside of Quebec. I feel like the amount of time lent to that stupid royal trip on the CBC is meant to mitigate national sympathy for Quebec students' efforts. Granted national news probably ran out of steam covering the protests earlier on.
posted by RollingGreens at 12:55 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I hope these students make the lives of Quebec government ministers hell this summer.

Je me souviens.
posted by GuyZero at 12:56 PM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


KokuRyu, this article is from about a month ago, but talks a little bit about the lack of coverage. I'm also seeing this shared a lot today: Ten Points Everyone Should Know About the Quebec Student Movement.

Here, also, is a fantastic Open Letter to English-Canadians, who might be feeling that Quebeckers have taken leave of their senses... "The students' claim has never been that they should not pay for education. The question is whether they should do so up front, before they have income, or later, as taxpayers in a progressive taxation scheme."
posted by oulipian at 12:58 PM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's really strange how little attention this is getting in the Canadian media. Nothing on the front page of the G/M, nothing in the other PostMedia papers...

Not sure if this counts, but the chunk of my Twitter feed I think of as the Very Serious People in Canadian media (Wells, Coyne etc.) has been so full of talk that they've been forgetting sometimes to tweet important daily developments in Question Period. They appear to be pretty much universally couchfaintingly outraged.

Twitter's proven to be a very useful tool in demonstrating the fundamentally authoritarian mindset behind a great deal of superficially centrist punditry.
posted by gompa at 12:58 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


As far as I know (and I feel I am likely going to be corrected here - please do so if I am wrong), the Quebec government has no effective mechanism to charge students for their tuition after they have graduate. Since students have freedom of movement, they can just move to another province or another country (as they are already doing) and never bother to pay for their education.
posted by saeculorum at 1:05 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even Lysiane Gagnon is come out against the protesters.

Or maybe I'm being naive, and the suspension of civil liberties is somehow a good thing supported by a majority of Quebeckers.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:05 PM on May 22, 2012


This so-called “strike”...

Aaaaaaand I'm done with Lysiane Gagnon.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:12 PM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'd like to see more media coverage outside of Quebec as well and increased support, especially from other students. I don't really appreciate the argument that since other provinces have higher costs, Quebec should too.

Its also interesting to look at how costs have increased; over 600% for some groups at some schools over the last few decades. Out of date but thought provoking infographic at cbc http://www.cbc.ca/news/interactives/map-tuition-fees/
posted by narcissus_and_ambrosia at 1:18 PM on May 22, 2012


It's really strange how little attention this is getting in the Canadian media.

It's on the front page of G&M.com right now. It's had almost daily coverage by the Globe and CBC, certainly major stories several times a week for the duration of the strike. My perception from Ontario is that it's had a lot of coverage.
posted by bonehead at 1:24 PM on May 22, 2012


Wow, heckuva lede there, Lysiane:

Mix together a generation of kids used to having their way at home with various groups of adults carrying their own political agendas, and the cocktail you get is the longest and wildest student revolt in Canada’s history.

Guess it's pretty easy to stake out a position in a situation like this when all you see in the street is an army of straw men.
posted by gompa at 1:24 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Agile Web literacy and creative communication have been in display since the first days. There are countless videos, parodies, drawings, etc. A few examples:

École de la Montagne rouge (an autonomous studio created by a group of students at UQAM Faculty of Design).

Arrêtez-moi quelqu'un (Somebody please arrest me) (Je désobéis = I disobey).

From the artist zviane.
(Translation: Meanwhile, in Mexico... So! Are there any good news from Quebec?)
posted by bru at 1:32 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very struck by the comments on that Gagnon piece and how much they sound like the kind of stuff one used to hear in the sixties from people deeply offended by the very concept of anti-war hippies.

There's one there that pretty much translates directly to George Wallace's famous, "You young people seem to know a lot of four-letter words. But I have two four-letter words you don't know: S-O-A-P and W-O-R-K."
posted by Naberius at 1:35 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


narcissus_and_ambrosia: "I'd like to see more media coverage outside of Quebec as well and increased support, especially from other students. I don't really appreciate the argument that since other provinces have higher costs, Quebec should too."


You're right that that argument makes little sense, and I think it's for exactly for that reason that we won't likely see many expressions of support from students in other provinces. Each province has the right to set its own priorities, and this is a battle fundamentally over the Quebec government undermining what is perceived to be common agreement on the value of education at little cost. This is all bound up in a political reality unique to Quebec, and difficult to extend to the rest of the country who are likely to remain onlookers first and foremost.
posted by lookoutbelow at 1:36 PM on May 22, 2012


It rankles me to see so many people say "they should just get jobs" tell that to my wife some 5 years unemployed now and no end in sight. It's no better for students out there and one can only imagine the hue and cry among the employed castes if their unsullied numbers were faced with the same grim future of

"you need a diploma to get a job; you need a job to get a diploma; why aren't you working already?"
posted by NiteMayr at 1:38 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


lookoutbelow: What is a "reasonable cost" and how is such a "reasonable cost" defined? I've been trying to find some answer to this question from the protesters and haven't had much luck. I want a number here. Can the cost be indexed to inflation?

(I feel compelled to reiterate here that Quebec has the lowest tuition costs in Canada, that Quebec has the lowest student debt in Canada, and even with the full 75% tuition increase, cost increases in Quebec have been less than the cost of inflation over the last 45 years. If you think the proposed rates are too high, you should have been protesting continuously for the last 45 years.)
posted by saeculorum at 1:40 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]




lookoutbelow: What is a "reasonable cost" and how is such a "reasonable cost" defined? I've been trying to find some answer to this question from the protesters and haven't had much luck. I want a number here. Can the cost be indexed to inflation?


They answered this during the Quiet Revolution. Quebec was meant to have free post secondary by now.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:47 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Has there ever been a student protest that actually succeeded in preventing tuition increases?
It rankles me to see so many people say "they should just get jobs" tell that to my wife some 5 years unemployed now and no end in sight. It's no better for students out there and one can only imagine the hue and cry among the employed castes if their unsullied numbers were faced with the same grim future of
See, no one says that in the U.S. College is way to expensive to pay for with a Job, even if you already had your degree. Without student loans or rich parents (or scholarships) there is simply no way to pay for school on your own.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


translating the printemps érable

(The title itself "printemps érable" can't be translated. It means nothing in English as "Maple Spring" but sounds in French like "printemps arabe" = Arab Spring.)
posted by bru at 1:49 PM on May 22, 2012


saeculorum: Personally I think indexing to inflation is perfectly reasonable. But I'm not a student in Quebec. (Well I am right now, but not during the year.) I think the thing to remember is that the protests aren't just about the tuition cost increases. There's a significant portion of the population that believes education should be free or close to it, and who are uncomfortable with the direction of the Charest government in this and other matters. And on top of all that Quebec universities are increasingly, and chronically underfunded, and suffering for it.

delmoi: "Has there ever been a student protest that actually succeeded in preventing tuition increases?"
Quebec has a long history of successful student protests.
posted by lookoutbelow at 1:51 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't really appreciate the argument that since other provinces have higher costs, Quebec should too.

That is a terrible argument. It makes no sense. It assumes that Quebec should be forced into the same social contracts as the rest of the country.

The question is can Quebec make the choice to sustain low tuition and at what cost? The Charest Liberals brought in a budget near balanced this year, based on raised tuition. What would they have to change to keep tuition frozen this year and in the next five years? What trade-offs should be made for that? That's the key question that needs to be debated: what needs to be done to keep student debt low?

Quebec will probably need to have an election to answer this question, but it's not a winning one for Charest, I don't think.
posted by bonehead at 1:54 PM on May 22, 2012


If you want to know more about why Quebec feels that post-secondary education is a public good and should be free and accessible, I recommend doing some reading on the Parent Report.


delmoi: "Has there ever been a student protest that actually succeeded in preventing tuition increases?"
Quebec has a long history of successful student protests.


Quebec has a culture of that, for sure. Also, this is more than just a matter of student protest; we're dealing with something that Quebec had laid out as a core value back during the Quiet Revolution, when they established a lot of the firewalls between themselves and anglo Canada. The separatist movement knows this, and the Bloc has come out in support of the students.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:55 PM on May 22, 2012


Quebec having the lowest tuition is an argument for the protest. This kind of resistance is why they haven't been screwed by universities and loan sharks the way that the rest of North America has. I hope students elsewhere are picking up on that.
posted by cdward at 2:00 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


This so-called “strike”...

Aaaaaaand I'm done with Lysiane Gagnon.


If it's the 'so-called' element that is rankling you, I think she was getting at the idea that a strike is typically seen as labour withdrawing their services from their place of employment in order to effect a change in management policy. It's hard really to draw the same analogy to the student protests in Montreal because they're not withdrawing services from the government in the same way. They're declining to attend classes, though classes continue. I think that was the the reason for the scare quotes -- it's a protest, not really a strike.
posted by modernnomad at 2:03 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


>translating the printemps érable

(The title itself "printemps érable" can't be translated. It means nothing in English as "Maple Spring" but sounds in French like "printemps arabe" = Arab Spring.)


Uh, Acer Spring?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:07 PM on May 22, 2012


I agree that tuition should be indexed with inflation, but it's far too expensive right now. We should first set tuition to $0, and then begin indexing with inflation.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:08 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


What do you think about the idea of providing an itinerary to the police if you would like to gather outside with your friends?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:09 PM on May 22, 2012


One thing to keep in mind is that the Quebecois education system is different from (and I think, superior) that in the rest of Canada and the U.S.. Quebec has a system of something like community colleges called CEGEP, and provides for one year less of secondary school. If families had to start paying tuition for their last year of high school in the rest of North America, there would likely be some outcry.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:13 PM on May 22, 2012


What do you think about the idea of providing an itinerary to the police if you would like to gather outside with your friends?

It's only if you are going out with lots (20+? 50+? I don't recall) of your friends, and no one really has that many friends. Or family, or group one might want to gather in for any good reason.

That law makes me angry and I cannot really be sarcastic about it.

Also, the tuition hike is not (at this point) for Cegep, it is for university, which is 3 years instead of four.
posted by jeather at 2:19 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, jeather. My bad. I did try to look it up, but couldn't find the detail.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:24 PM on May 22, 2012


The law says that it applies to gatherings of 50 or more in section III.

If you can, the whole thing is worth reading, in that reports of its scope are not particularly overblown.
posted by frimble at 2:29 PM on May 22, 2012


When the bill was first drafted it was gatherings of 10. (See page 4 of the PDF linked here). Crazy.
posted by cdward at 2:42 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it all gatherings or just protests? If it's all gatherings with a 50 person threshhold every softball and hockey game played would need to notify the police.
posted by Mitheral at 2:43 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Avant de participer à une manifestation, il faut s’assurer qu’elle est bien légale.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:53 PM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


@mitheral, that's exactly it. it's all gatherings; to be on the safe side you have to alert the city. it is beyond messed up.

say what you want about tuition fee hikes, but when the government makes it illegal for people to assemble, for people to wear red squares on their shirts, for people to criticize, this turns the corner from "i have $60,000 of crippling student debt so quebec students should have that too" into something way scarier and way more important.
posted by andreapandrea at 3:30 PM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


For those that aren't aware, downtown Montreal has McGill in the middle, which has about 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students. About 8 blocks west is Concordia, which has about 45,000. About 8 blocks east is UQAM (University of Quebec at Montreal) at about 40,000, and then there is University of Montreal to the north, on the other side of Mont Royal with about 58,000.

That is a total of 178,000 students in a very small area, relatively speaking. I'm not surprised at the size of the crowds they have been getting.. and that isn't even counting CEGEP kids and other smaller schools.

p.s. I am very proud of both my McGill degrees and I miss that town a lot.
posted by mbatch at 4:03 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best English-language coverage of these protests is happening on the discussion board of Canadian progressive news site rabble.ca. The latest thread is here. (Disclaimer: I am employed by rabble.ca. Apologies if this is bad form, but I don't actually gain from linking. It really is excellent coverage!)
posted by Catchfire at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems like malicious compliance with the requirement to report all gatherings would be a good protest.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:12 PM on May 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Catchfire linking to stuff you are invovled with in comments (not the front page/posts) is fine in moderation and if the links are relevant. Doesn't hurt to qualify it but even that's not required.
posted by Mitheral at 4:20 PM on May 22, 2012


it's all gatherings; to be on the safe side you have to alert the city. it is beyond messed up.


That's what I thought; it's obviously looney. And how exactly do you control how many people show up to a protest? It's not like you take tickets or extract an entry fee.
posted by Mitheral at 4:21 PM on May 22, 2012


lookoutbelow: What is a "reasonable cost" and how is such a "reasonable cost" defined? I've been trying to find some answer to this question from the protesters and haven't had much luck. I want a number here. Can the cost be indexed to inflation?

(I feel compelled to reiterate here that Quebec has the lowest tuition costs in Canada, that Quebec has the lowest student debt in Canada, and even with the full 75% tuition increase, cost increases in Quebec have been less than the cost of inflation over the last 45 years. If you think the proposed rates are too high, you should have been protesting continuously for the last 45 years.)


The provincial tuition comparison is a red herring:

a) When I got my undergraduate degree in BC in the 1980s, tuition comprised 12% of the university's budget.

b) Today, tuition comprises about 30% of the university budget in BC, OR about 40% if the budget is reported the same way as it was in the late 80s. Meanwhile Quebec students in universities still pay 12%, same as I did.


(CEGEP, is free (mostly, and for Quebeckers only), and includes the equivalent of grade 12 plus two years of university equivalent OR two years of a trade)

What has happened is a massive removal of support from education by the federal government, and Quebec has refused to give in on accessible education, while most other provinces caved. Newfoundland recently reduced tuition.

Quebec's CEGEP system and accessible tuition is part of the "quiet revolution", and is explicitly tied to a goal of making society more fair. It is also explicitly feminist.

Check out this interview from CBC (skip to start at 18 minutes): Interview with sociologist Guy Rocher, who was part of the Parent Commission which set up the system.
posted by chapps at 4:50 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


also, I love anarchopanda!

Anarchopanda is everywhere ... Anarchopanda has become a minor celebrity , even making msnbc. Anarchopanda hugs both the prominent student leader, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois after the announcement that La Class will defy Loi 78, but he has some love to spare for the riot cops too, who mostly accept it with good humour, despite the extreme tension at demos recently.
posted by chapps at 5:01 PM on May 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


It would be great if students today paid the same amount (in real terms) their parents paid
posted by KokuRyu at 5:03 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've often argued that post-secondary tuition should be free for a couple of reasons: free tuition reduces barriers to upward social mobility and creates a workforce able to compete in a global knowledge economy.

I guess the downside of free tertiary education is that there would be significant pressure to get rid of "hobby degrees", or courses and disciplines with no apparent usefulness after graduation.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:12 PM on May 22, 2012


CBC just reported at least 100,000 in the street, with no arrests, despite the demonstration being "illegal" under the new law.

For those interested in the civil liberties issue, the law is available in English and French here.

"A student association must employ appropriate means to induce the students it represents not to contravene sections 13 and 14. The same holds for a federation of associations with respect to its member student associations and the students represented by them"

Section 13 and 14 refer to blocking access to class, or "any form of gathering that could result in denying ... access" to classes -- including those within 50 m of a campus.

Fines to student associations could range from $25,000 to $125,000, and are doubled for subsequent offenses.

The 100,000 individuals in the street could each be fined $7,000 to $35,000 each for participating in todays demonstrations.

Ok.... that's it from me for a bit, I promise!!
posted by chapps at 5:16 PM on May 22, 2012


Whoa. Just saw this on Twitter - an Instagram pic of the crowd on the streets of Montreal right now, shot from above. The understated caption: "That's a lot of people."

The kinds of numbers the media would probably put at "hundreds."

It seems like malicious compliance with the requirement to report all gatherings would be a good protest.

That is already happening.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:26 PM on May 22, 2012


I've seen this image making the rounds lately among my Quebecois friends.

That second shot warms the cockles of my red and black heart.

I realize this is a huge jump, but I pay that in USD each semester. And this is at a fairly affordable state school in Wisconsin.

Why the fuck aren't you in the streets; if you don't fight for your rights, your successors lose them.

and no one really has that many friends. Or family, or group one might want to gather in for any good reason.

Speak for yourself.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:29 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised the whole nihilistic early eighties 'no future' punk meme hasn't got a hold of these kids. The boomers will (eventually) be leaving their jobs / houses feet first, but until that happens, all of the Masters' degrees in the world aren't going to help you find quality employment. And what's happening in the housing market here is just ludicrous thanks to artificially low interest rates and the home equity-backed loans that come with them.

I don't see the issue as being the cost of tuition, but rather the futility of even trying to gain a toehold in the current economy. It's really sad to watch and one has to wonder if the whole generation's long-range prospects haven't been ruined before they can even get out of the gate.

Also, it's incredible seeing Charest shred the charter of rights just so he can look tough in the media. The QC libs are about to face a huge public corruption inquiry (similar in scope to the one that sunk the federal liberal party years back), so as a cynic one has to wonder whether this isn't all a big distraction.
posted by biochemicle at 6:37 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't see the issue as being the cost of tuition, but rather the futility of even trying to gain a toehold in the current economy. It's really sad to watch and one has to wonder if the whole generation's long-range prospects haven't been ruined before they can even get out of the gate.

A decent chunk of the folks out in Montreal aren't just angry about tuition increases. There are sizable contingents of both Maoist and Anarchist demonstrators coming out now. Montreal isn't just angry with their neo-liberal government: a growing number of them are angry with capitalism.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:45 PM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


But where are the Trotskyists?

It's also good to be aware that parts of the "maoist" movement is just a front for the PQ. No, seriously.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:59 PM on May 22, 2012


Higher education absolutely, positively should be free or very cheap. But - and this is a big and highly politically-incorrect but - it should also be very selective. The model for higher education, public higher education, anyway, should be the old (early-mid-20th century) City University of New York, which was practically free but very difficult to get into.

I don't know much about college in Quebec or Canada, generally. But I think in the U.S., at least, it's high time we acknowledge the idea that everyone should get a college degree is borderline ludicrous. Higher education's popularity grows only because of societal inertia and the even-more-abysmal quality of our primary and secondary (especially secondary - high school in the U.S. is a joke) education.

You want to seriously fix education? Get kids of out college. The introductory and remedial stuff they learn in college should be taught in high school, if not earlier. Most career-training activity can be done via apprenticeships, (hopefully paid) internships, targeted certifications, or plain old on-the-job training. Having millions and millions of people in regular, liberal-arts oriented college is a huge waste of society's resources and young people's time, and it persists only to make up for the dysfunction in our education system that reaches all the way back to early childhood education.

But wait, you say! College is necessary to create well-rounded, intellectually curious individuals who are knowledgeable and can participate in democratic discourse! To which I say: bullshit. People who are intellectually curious will naturally seek out such pursuits, just like they always have. People who are intellectually curious and academically-minded will probably still go to college - I certainly do think college serves a useful function in some circumstances. Most intellectually curious people I know were that way before college, and remained that way after receiving their degrees. Critical thinking and curiosity are ingrained traits, and I have never, ever, met a single individual who entered college an unthinking dolt and left it an intellectual heavyweight.

I know this is a minority opinion pretty much everywhere, but the idea that college is some kind of magic fairy dust that you can sprinkle on impressionable young minds to create good citizens, or innovative minds, or critical thinkers, or whatever, is crap. College itself is not going to do anything if you degrade the quality of it, and if you force it to accept legions of young people who are both unprepared for it and better suited for something else.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:13 PM on May 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


the idea that everyone should get a college degree is borderline ludicrous.

I tend to agree, but the fact of the matter is that many of good jobs today require a degree. It's been argued that they should not as it's often not specifically relevant, but it's hard to see a way out of this... educational arms race. The students look at the world, notice that having a degree seems to be a necessity if they don't want to work at Wal-mart and get on with it. The employers receive a glut of applications from graduates and non-graduate alike, of course they're going to choose the more qualified ones.
posted by the collander at 7:24 PM on May 22, 2012


This minutes ago from CTV Montreal:
The union representing the STM's bus drivers has asked its members to no longer transport Montreal police. bit.ly/KKWTlJ
This thing may have just entered a new phase.
posted by gompa at 7:51 PM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


This thing may have just entered a new phase.

I hope so. Transit unions usually are more radical than their contemporaries. This is encouraging.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:54 PM on May 22, 2012


breakin' the law: Well, the Quebec system is a bit idealistic, in that everyone who goes through cégep has to take 3 philosophy courses and 4 French courses, whether they like it or not. This stands even for the technical degree, like Water systems, Police or Nursing.

But afterwards, except for some specific programs (e.g. Liberal Arts at Concordia), Quebec University degrees are mostly specialized, with little "general education" stuff required. Most Baccalaureates also only take three years, with exceptions (Engineering, Teaching -- you enter Medicine right after cégep, and it's its own thing -- Law is just three years after cégep).

I think cégep is a fairly useful thing as a "maturation" space. Immature 18-years-old can go out and smoke weed for a year or two, taking relatively low-cost programs; once it's out of their system, they can do something worthwhile (maybe go to trade school, maybe to college), without having ruined themselves/their parents/the taxpayers.

I think you're discounting the value of education a bit much: those philosophy courses don't turn all students into Great Minds, but they do have their effect on kids.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:57 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know much about college in Quebec or Canada, generally. But I think in the U.S., at least, it's high time we acknowledge the idea that everyone should get a college degree is borderline ludicrous.

My understanding is that in the US "College" is used in the same way we use "university" in Canada.

CEGEP includes the equivalent of Grade 12 high school in the rest of Canada, plus two years of either university prep (i.e. first couple years of undergrad) OR trade certification.

You must complete CEGEP to go to University if you are a Quebecker -- thus the "shorter degree" -- it is actually equivalent to those in the rest of the country in length, just spent in two institutions.

Quebec has a higher college (CEGEP) participation rate than other provinces, but a lower university attendance rate. Their post secondary rate -- including both CEGEP and university is exactly the Canadian average, and 5th highest of the 10 provinces.

College is necessary to create well-rounded, intellectually curious individuals who are knowledgeable and can participate in democratic discourse! To which I say: bullshit.

To some extent I agree... I know plenty of people who are politically brilliant with little formal education -- but at the same time I can't help but think there is a reason activism in Quebec includes a much more diverse population than the rest of the country and that it might have to do with valuing the time spent in a more liberal education system.
posted by chapps at 8:28 PM on May 22, 2012


the idea that everyone should get a college degree is borderline ludicrous.

It depends on what's being taught.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:59 PM on May 22, 2012


It also kind of depends on what kind of society you want to live in. Do we want to facilitate social mobility and an equitable distribution of wealth? Or will postsecondary education remain reserved for the upper middle class?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:00 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


University-bound CEGEP degrees are 2, not 3 years. Vocational degrees are 3.

But otherwise, yes: High School ends a year earlier, and most undergraduate degrees (including Honours degrees) are 3 years, so the total number of years spent is typically consistent with grade 12 + 4 year undergraduate degree.
posted by ~ at 9:10 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked the system that I once heard of being used in France: free university that was not hard to get into, but hard to STAY in.

If you make university just hard to get into, then you will have a bunch of teenagers who are crammed by their parents in highschool and who may or may not be any good at university. I watched B and A students in high school crash and burn in university. And you would be excluding people who had Cs in high school, but who would excel in university. I ran Cs through grades 9-12, pulled up a few As for my grade 13 (ah, loved that thing where only the last year counted), and ran a 4.0 through university.

Of course, I wouldn't have even gotten the As in grade 13 if I hadn't finally found out that Canadian universities don't cost as much as the movies told me (I knew from movies that universities - aka Harvard - cost $20k or more a year, and no one in my family had been to university, so they couldn't tell me otherwise). Poor kids don't try in high school because they don't see themselves as being able to AFFORD university, so why work towards it?
posted by jb at 9:14 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone gets a high school education (or, at least, we pretend we want to give everyone one); what is special about a university education that we need to deprive certain members of society of it?

Oh, aside from maintaining class privilege, I mean.
posted by Catchfire at 11:43 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not class privilege, Catchfire. I've taught plenty of students, from many different economic backgrounds (though skewed rich) who don't belong in a university, mostly because they lacked any interest in the subject matter and were there because they or their parents bought into the mass conflation of academic and vocational training.

Most people don't have the right set of abilities to do academic stuff seriously. Most people do have the ability to do important and worthwhile things, and there is lots of stuff to do that is non-academic and requires cleverness and skill and training. It's doubly tragic that society has decided that everyone needs to go to university, because the result is watered-down university courses and, worse, masses of people never discovering the actual optimal uses of their intelligence.

I second the claim that university should be free and hard. University should also be one of several types of available post-secondary education.

(The demonstration yesterday was epic. As a transplanted American, it was interesting to see a line of sanitation workers with red squares on waving as we walked by, and a bunch of fancy-ass looking folks doing the same. I feel that, in the States, both groups would have yelled at us to fuck off and get jobs.)
posted by kengraham at 5:06 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ken -- one answer I would give is that even if the courses are meritocratic, the outcomes won't be. There's lots of research by labor economists showing that even when you control for income, parental expectations are pretty influential on educational attainment. Rich families will find ways to push their lousy offspring through.
posted by ~ at 5:37 AM on May 23, 2012


I see this as the beginning of a boomer backlash. To fit with the zeitgeist for 'boomer', think 'zombie'. For 'Montreal', think of an inverted 'Day of the Dead', with boomers as the mall-walkers. And the true irony is that the boomers think the protestors are the ones with an over-inflated sense of entitlement. Jeez. Add to the mix the return of the Dark Lord from a US clink, and a creeping police state and the consequence is that we are in for a very interesting summer in La Belle Province.
posted by aeshnid at 5:45 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: pretty much universally couchfaintingly outraged.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:10 AM on May 23, 2012


~, if that's true (which I have no reason to doubt), that makes the problem very difficult. It's not really important that the courses be "meritocratic", though, because education should not be a competitive endeavour. It's just important that the courses be worth attending. Basically, the incentive to "push the rich kid through" has to be removed. To accomplish this, society needs to be made to realize that "academic pursuits" are usually distinct from "prerequisites for a reasonably well-paying job". If a university education were financially accessible to everyone, and not considered either prestigious or universally necessary, then the problem would solve itself. Maybe universities should just continue to function roughly as they do now, but stop granting degrees. That wouldn't affect the mission of creating an educated populace one iota; in my experience, people who are only there for a degree don't learn much, and compromise the quality of courses. Nor would it affect the university's other important mission, namely the creation of knowledge through research.

This should be true even in more professional or vocational courses of study. The onus should be on the engineering/law/architecture/healthcare/accounting concerns to figure out whom to hire; forcing a public institution (the university) to perform an applicant-filtering function for the benefit of corporations (by forcing them to grant degrees) is a misuse of public resources. The social cost is the lousy rich offspring in my class, lowering the tone and taking the smart, interested poor kid's spot.

(I should also clarify that I did not mean that admissions should be hard. They should probably be completely open, or nearly so. The courses, however, should not be diluted to accommodate a student body with no interest or background in the subject at hand. University should be hard; the chance to attend should be universally available.)
posted by kengraham at 6:29 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


and no one really has that many friends. Or family, or group one might want to gather in for any good reason.
Speak for yourself.


Yeah, I was being unclearly sarcastic. I don't think the law is a good law, to be clear (all parts of it), and I have been against the tuition increases consistently since they were announced.
posted by jeather at 7:04 AM on May 23, 2012


There do appear to be very sharp demographic cleavages concerning the bill and the larger protests:
Leger pollster Christian Bourque said instead of creating a ``law and order,'' consensus, the bill appears to have divided Quebecers - especially along generational lines.

If you are older, anglophone, rich or live in the Quebec City area you support the tough bill, Leger concluded. If you are from Montreal, young, francophone or live on a lower income, chances are you oppose it.
---Montreal Gazette

From the article, it seems support is about 2/3rds for, 2/3 against. Charest's poll numbers are actually up slightly on the news.
posted by bonehead at 8:43 AM on May 23, 2012


Woops: 23/ for, 1/3 against.
posted by bonehead at 8:44 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently Jaggi Singh is participating in the protests now. Heaven help Charest.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:48 AM on May 23, 2012


Oh, Jaggi. Maybe the Trojan Doughnut will make a reappearance. Or that teddy bear catapult
posted by chapps at 1:24 PM on May 23, 2012


anarchopanda interviewed on CBC's the current today.
posted by chapps at 5:30 PM on May 23, 2012


I found this to be a pretty clear, concise summary:
NYT op-ed - Our Not-So-Friendly Northern Neighbor

Canada used to seem a progressive and just neighbor, but the picture today looks less rosy. One of its provinces has gone rogue, trampling basic democratic rights in an effort to end student protests against the Quebec provincial government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75 percent.

On May 18, Quebec’s legislative assembly, under the authority of the provincial premier, Jean Charest, passed a draconian law in a move to break the 15-week-long student strike. Bill 78, adopted last week, is an attack on Quebecers’ freedom of speech, association and assembly. Mr. Charest has refused to use the traditional means of mediation in a representative democracy, leading to even more polarization. His administration, one of the most right-wing governments Quebec has had in 40 years, now wants to shut down opposition.

The bill threatens to impose steep fines of 25,000 to 125,000 Canadian dollars against student associations and unions — which derive their financing from tuition fees — in a direct move to break the movement. For example, student associations will be found guilty if they do not stop their members from protesting within university and college grounds...

posted by flex at 6:33 AM on May 24, 2012


518 arrested as Montreal police kettle demonstrators
posted by homunculus at 2:55 PM on May 24, 2012


Maple Spring: Nearly 1,000 Arrested as Mass Quebec Student Strike Passes 100th Day
posted by homunculus at 10:12 AM on May 25, 2012


What the hell is going on in Quebec?
posted by homunculus at 7:05 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looks like that BoingBoing piece is by zadcat? Much appreciated!
posted by flex at 4:50 AM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Manif casseroles: there's an app for that

You with the red square on your shirt... Thirsty? There's a beer for that.


Think the english media in Canada is missing the point? The folks at "translate the printemps erable agree.

What's voldemort got to do with it? Hmmm.

Lefty and jealous that all the action is (again) in Quebec: there's a cure for that:: #CasserolesNightinCanada
posted by chapps at 11:33 PM on May 26, 2012


^^^ not minimizing, just fascinated by the endless creativity of it all. And inspired.
posted by chapps at 11:36 PM on May 26, 2012


Montreal's 'casseroles' cook up a storm over Quebec's anti-protest law
posted by homunculus at 11:49 AM on May 28, 2012


Arrêtez-moi quelqu’un!
posted by homunculus at 8:09 PM on May 31, 2012


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