Neither gov’t nor protesters like the future they see

Student unrest in Quebec and the “strike” action taken by thousands has been a simmering issue for at least a decade ...

GEORGE BROWN – Off the Record

Student unrest in Quebec and the “strike” action taken by thousands has been a simmering issue for at least a decade — a couple of generations in scholastic terms.

In an attempt to get its fiscal house in order and to move more of the tax burden to users, Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government is faced with some tough choices, not the least of which is phasing in a university tuition increase. The government wants to raise the annual base fee by $1,625, to be imposed over five or seven years, depending on the effectiveness of the protests. Quebec students now pay about $2,000 annually in university tuition while the Canadian average is just over $4,000. With the increase, their tuition would still be the lowest in North America.

Students are protesting an increase of $6.25 a week, less than the cost of two beers in a campus brasserie or less than an hour’s work at minimum wage.

Their shortsighted mathematics misses the point that while there is a great cost for a university education (borne in large part by taxpayers and private donations), there is great financial benefit to be found after graduation in the workplace.

More than 100,000 students have gone on strike, stopped attending classes. The government responded by suspending the school year.

The protest has moved beyond whether Quebec students have a right to heavily subsidized university tuition. This story moved on after the first brick was thrown. The Charest government, devoid of any negotiating skills, decided the best way to stop the students’ protest over tuition fees was to make their protest illegal. That caused the tuition protest to morph into a mobile Occupy movement.

Canadians have the right to protest government measures they feel are unjust and they have the right to lawful assembly and become a political force to effect the changes they seek. The Charest government is being pressured to call an election to regain what civil and moral authority has been lost.

Both the students and the Charest government have lost credibility.

The students are protesting a future in Quebec that they don’t want to experience, one that has faced a financial crisis and made the tough decisions necessary to stay viable. Quebec is the highest-tax province in Canada and survives and enjoys its status thanks to transfer payments from the rest of Canada. Quebec’s tax regime has evolved so that about half of Quebecers pay income tax. Public daycare in Quebec costs $45 a day but parents pay only $7 a day; public transit fares return only 45 cents on the dollar.

Quebec has had its 1960s Quiet Revolution that promised a brighter future. It now needs a fiscal revolution to ensure there is a future.

Just Posted

Ponoka’s on the CP Holiday Train stop coming in December

The train starts up Nov. 27 featuring performers Terri Clark, Sierra Noble and Kelly Prescott

Ponoka County fire crews handle second baler fire in 12 hours

Fire crews handled a baler fire just west of Gull Lake

Red Deer RCMP ask for assistance to ID suspect in indecent acts

The suspect exposed himself to a woman and made sexual comments to her

WCPS uses cannabis legislation to fully review drug, alcohol and tobacco policies

Cannabis is not permitted in schools; WCPS focused on providing education and support

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

Alberta readies itself for cannabis sales with 17 stores (for now) and a new provincial website

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

One year to election: Trudeau Liberals gear up for tussles on climate, premiers

Analysts say that the Liberals have reason to be ‘fairly confident’

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

Police say suspicious death of B.C. artist ruled a homicide

Patrick Zube Aylward’s body was found in a residence on a rural road outside of Seton Portage, west of Lillooet, B.C.

Temporary roads being built in areas affected by landslide in northern B.C.

Emergency Management BC news release says Disaster Financial Assistance is available to eligible residents of the Peace River Regional District who may have been affected by the landslides

Most Read