The New York Times
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
Cute enough, you’d think. However, there’s more from the depths of someone’s mind.
Synopsized from the NYT opinion piece, my words in brackets:
1. Fines of $25,000 to $125,000 Canadian dollars against student associations and unions (for protesting on campus grounds)
2. Student associations will be found guilty if they do not stop their members from protesting within university and college grounds. (This means literally expecting them to prevent their members exercising their right to free speech.)
3. Student associations and unions are also liable for any damage caused by a third party during a demonstration. (Enter the Black Bloc, the neo con thugs that always show up during any liberal demonstration but never during right wing demos. It’d be interesting to see if a direct connection between the Black Bloc pigs and a serving conservative government can finally be made.)
It’s debatable whether a provincial government actually has the power to enact legislation against Canadian citizens’ democratic rights. It has the power to control the police, which seems to be the bottom line here.
It does not have even the theoretical power to deny the democratic rights of Canadian citizens.
The sheer scale of mismanagement of a 75% hike in education fees defies description. On what basis is this ridiculous number even being considered? Is the government saying that the education system is 75% underfunded? Even the bloodsucking US colleges don’t refer to figures like that. Either the province has mismanaged its tertiary education system so badly that it’s falling to pieces, or this is a money making exercise.
Ironic that a province that prides itself on its French heritage would do this. When something far less draconian was tried in France, there was literally blood in the streets and riots for weeks/months. The French have never forgotten that time. Quebec, apparently, has.
For journalists- If you are in any way threatened or penalized in your coverage of the Quebec student issues, you may have the legal right to sue anyone who infringes on your earning an income, or acts in that way outside their jurisdiction. Afterthought: Collateral legal action for breach of trade treaties may also be an option for foreign journalists.
A nice class action of a few hundred million springs to mind. So does a nice folksy T shirt with a motto from the somewhat noticeably French Foreign Legion: “Je te pisse au nez.” This motto is intended to give a sense of direction to those who apparently need one.
Anti-democracy merde-montagnes can go to hell. Given the behaviour of so many politicians, perhaps they need a bit of help getting there. Make sure they get it.