Law Union of Ontario Expression of Solidarity With Québec Students

LUO Letter to Premier Charest

The enclosed letter was sent to Premier Jean Charest and several government ministers on May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012

The Honourable Jean CharestPremier
Government of Québec
Édifice Honoré-Mercier
835, boul. René-Lévesque Est, 3e étage
Québec (Quebec) GIA 1B4

Dear Premier Charest,

The Law Union of Ontario expresses solidarity with the students in Québec who continue to protest the tuition increase and more broadly, the austerity measures that are being effected throughout Canada.

The student demonstrations in Québec have sparked widespread discussion on the accessibility of education. The tuition increase proposed by the Charest government comes from the view that the current method of funding post secondary education is fiscally unsustainable and that individual students should bear the burden of their education. This view heavily deviates from the goal of democratizing post secondary education identified by he Parent Commission and results in a number of unwanted repercussions, including the
exclusion of equity groups that cannot afford a post-secondary degree. The red squares that many of us wear in solidarity of the student movement signify the impact that the proposed increase will have on student debt; it will leave students “carrément dans le rouge” (squarely n the red) and will trap students in years of debt.

Further, we recognize that the demonstrations are part of the greater struggle opposing neoliberal austerity measures that are being proposed and implemented by various Canadian governments. The tuition increases, bursary cuts, and additional efforts to encourage
donations from individuals and businesses are all part of the neo-liberal discourse of privatization. The Charest government’s proposals are indeed consonant with the way neoliberalism operates—the use of state power to create an increasingly laissez faire environment while making efforts to decrease public expenditures. We see the hikes as an attack on some of the most vulnerable members of society and find parallels in our commitment to oppose inequality that is fueled by government and corporate actors. By fiercely advocating against neo-liberal austerity measures, the students in Québec set an example for the rest of us to follow; they remind us that there is an alternative to passive acceptance of the status quo by taking deliberate steps to build a better, more equitable future.

We urgently appeal to the Charest government to repeal Bill 78: An Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend for the severe ramifications it poses to Charter rights. Specifically, Bill 78’s provisions, which require
protestors to give at least eight hours notice to the police force of the time, duration, and itineraries of lawful assemblies involving 50 people or more, and the various penal sanctions for failing to adhere to this protocol, will have a chilling effect on the section 2(c) right to
peaceful assembly guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The banal naming of the legislation is nothing more than a mask for the further criminalization of dissent. Further, we ask the Charest government to resume negotiations with students in good faith, and call
for a moratorium on rising tuition fees. We condemn the police brutality, the arrests of
peaceful protestors, and the intensification of policing activity surrounding the ongoing
strike. Lastly, we protest the municipality of Montréal’s attempt at hindering protestors by
adopting the anti-mask bylaw.

Nous sommes solidaires avec les étudiants. Nous sommes ensemble.

-The Law Union of Ontario
cc Madame Michelle Courchesne, ministre de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport
Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec
Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec
Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante

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