The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Student Demonstrations in Quebec Gain Support from the Laboring Population

Jun 4, 2012

Student demonstrations against big tuition increases for college continue in Quebec, Canada.

Since the beginning of February, thousands of students have demonstrated to oppose a huge increase in tuition – the government wanted to increase it from $2200 a year (Canadian) to $4,000, over seven years. Several times a week, in meetings organized at night because they were working during the day, students reaffirmed their support for the ongoing strike. Even if student organizations met with the provincial government, the demonstrations continued, especially after Jean Charest, the premier of Quebec, pushed through a law banning meetings.

The premier’s move had the opposite effect: public opinion showed itself to be in solidarity with the students. A number of people joined the students to protest against massive numbers of arrests and enormous fines. And students continued to go out every night and beat on saucepans and large pots to make noise in the streets, in both Quebec and Montreal, plus dozens of other cities near them! And, as these noise-making demonstrations extended into many parts of the province, the demonstrators were reinforced in Montreal by a demonstration of judges, lawyers and court officials in their robes, wanting to mark their opposition to this law, some carrying the red square symbolizing the movement.

In the following weeks, the massive police presence was used violently against the student demonstrators, with large numbers of arrests, and fines and any other weapon the authorities could use to stop the angry students. Recently laws concerning night time security were used against the 35th night time demonstration, with fines of $500 each.

For ordinary Canadians in Quebec, the situation has gotten worse, with attacks from the bosses and from the government, both federal and provincial: higher fees for health care, higher cost of electricity, jobs cut in public services, threatened closure of factories. So the government faces discontent that has already widely gone beyond the few hundred thousand students, who first started this protest.