Saturday, May 26, 2012

Montreal: This is what's commonly known in the corporate media as "hundreds of protesters."

The 2012 Quebec student protests are a series of ongoing student demonstrations led by Quebec students' associations, students, and their supporters against a proposal by the Quebec Cabinet, headed by Premier Jean Charest, to raise university tuition from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2017. The student boycott started on 13 February 2012, when social sciences students at Université Laval decided to go on a "strike", followed shortly after by some faculties of the Université du Québec à Montréal. On 22 March, 166,068 students were on boycott in Quebec with a total of 300,000 people, including supporters, at the March 22 rally. By 22 May, general public discontent had begun escalating at an exponential pace in response to the passage of Bill 78, an emergency law that attempts to limit protest rights. In what has been called "The largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian History," almost 400,000 people marched on downtown Montreal (roughly 24% of the population of that city) on 22 May.
Since the beginning of the protests, major groups have joined forces with the students, turning the protests into demonstrations against the government. Opposition parties (Parti québécois, Québec solidaire), workers unions (Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Canadian Union of Public Employees) and many fringe groups have demonstrated alongside the students, turning the student movement into a national debate.
The student protests are also linked with some of the population's anger towards the government. Many allegations of corruption have surfaced in the last few years. After months and months of refusing to do so, Premier Jean Charest launched a public inquiry regarding links between elected government officials, construction leaders and organized crime, called the Commission Charbonneau, after the judge overseeing the works of the inquiry. One of the best-known names of the corruption scandal, Tony Accurso, has been linked many times to ministers currently sitting.
To make matters worse, ex-education Minister Line Beauchamp has had mafia members collaborate in fundraising activities in the past.
The main public faces of the protests are Léo Bureau-Blouin of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec and Martine Desjardins of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, as well as Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Jeanne Reynolds, the two spokespersons of the Coalition large de l'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, who represents 47% of the striking students and are considered the most radical of the three groups.


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