2012 Quebec student protests
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (May 2012)|
|2012 Quebec student protests|
|July 22 (left), May 22 (up) and April 15 (center) demonstrations and Victoriaville riots (down).|
|Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec
Line Beauchamp, Minister of Education (until May 14, 2012)
Michelle Courchesne, Minister of Education (May 14-September 4)
|Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of the CLASSE
Martine Desjardins of the FEUQ
Léo Bureau-Blouin of the FECQ
The 2012 Quebec student protests were a series of student demonstrations led by student unions like the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, and their supporters against a proposal by the Quebec Cabinet, headed by Liberal Premier Jean Charest, to raise university tuition from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2018. Offers from the government have included extending the bursary program to a higher income cut-off and extending the tuition transition period from five years to seven. All offers were rejected by student unions, and the students' suggestions of finding alternative funding sources were rejected by the government. The student strike started on February 13, 2012, when social science students at Université Laval decided to go on a strike, followed shortly after by some faculties of the Université du Québec à Montréal. On March 22, 310,000 students were on strike, and 300,000 people, including supporters, attended a demonstration.
On May 18 the Government passed Bill 78, an emergency law that attempts to manage how protesters conduct their demonstrations and ensure students who wanted to attend classes would not be barred from entering schools. In what has been called "The largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian History," between 400,000 and 500,000 people marched in downtown Montreal on May 22.
Since the beginning of the protests, major left-wing groups have joined forces with the students, helping to turn the protests into generalized demonstrations against the provincial government. Opposition parties (Parti Québécois, Québec solidaire, Option nationale), workers unions (Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Canadian Union of Public Employees) and many "fringe" groups have demonstrated alongside the students during April and May 2012.
The main public faces of the protests are Martine Desjardins, president of the FEUQ, Éliane Laberge, Léo Bureau-Blouin, president and former president respectively of the FECQ, as well as Jeanne Reynolds and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokespeople of the Coalition large de l'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE).
Historical context 
Until 1960s, education in Quebec was inconsistent and largely reserved for the wealthy. Following the Quiet Revolution, the government took over the responsibility. Changes included the creation of the CEGEP system and giving universities enough funding so that it would be affordable to anyone who wanted to attend.
University tuition fees in Quebec were frozen at $540 per year from 1968 to 1990. In 1994, tuition rose to $1668 per year, after which it was frozen until 2007, when it grew by $100 per year until 2012, making it $2168. Overall, tuition increased an average of $37 per year or 300% between 1968 and 2012, not including other fees that are paid to universities (e.g. administration fees, student service fees, etc.). However, the overall cost living inflation as measured by an aggregate inflation index commonly used by economists rose 557% from 1968 to 1990, and Quebec has the lowest tuition fees in Canada. Quebec students pay 10% of the cost and benefit from transfer payments from other provinces whose students pay up to three times more tuition.
Quebec is a net recipient of transfer payments from the federal government, and it uses those payments to pay for social programs, including education. The province does not disclose precisely how it spends the transfer payments, which have become politically charged for people in provinces that give more than they receive.
On March 7, 2012, during a sit-in demonstration in front of the Loto-Québec head office, a demonstrator eye was wounded, he alleged when a flash-bang grenade thrown by police exploded near his face, it was never proven and numerous projectile were trown by police and demonstrator.
During the morning rush hour on March 20, 150 student demonstrators blocked the Montreal-bound entrance ramp to the Champlain Bridge in Brossard using concrete blocks. Upon the arrival of Sûreté du Québec police officers, the protestors fled through the streets of Brossard to coaches waiting for them at Terminus Panama. When officers arrived at the Terminus, they surrounded the buses and arrested around 100 demonstrators. Each was identified and fined C$494.
On March 22, 2012, a massive march took place in downtown Montreal, with the organizers estimating that 200,000 people took part.
On May 6, 2012, a demonstration took place in Victoriaville, which eventually turned into a riot when vandals started throwing projectiles at the crowd. At least ten people were injured, including some police officers who were attacked by protesters. Two protesters were very seriously injured. The first one lost an eye. The second one sustained head trauma and a skull fracture.
On May 14, 2012 Line Beauchamp announced that she would resign from her position as Quebec Education Minister and Deputy Premier. Beauchamp stated that she “lost confidence in the student leaders’ will to end this conflict.” Later that same day, Premier Charest announced that Michelle Courchesne would replace Beauchamp as Education Minister and Deputy Premier.
On May 18, 2012, Bill 78 passed in the National Assembly of Quebec during the early hours of the morning and the municipality of Montreal passed a law prohibiting mask-wearing during any organization or demonstration. The nightly protest being held in downtown Montreal ended in violence and 69 arrests. There were reports of projectiles being launched by protesters, as well as molotov cocktails, and police responded by firing rubber bullets and using tear gas and noise bombs against the protesters. Police declared the protest to be illegal.
On May 20, 2012, during an evening protest that turned violent, a protester was seriously injured by police officers in riot gear. Upon attacking an officer, the victim was beaten by five officers with their clubs and forcibly neutralized.
On May 22, 2012, in response to the passage of Bill 78 and in commemoration of 100 days since the beginning of the student strike, another massive march took place, with sources estimating between 300,000 and 400,000 people involved (between 18-24% of the population of the city of Montreal). Organizers referred to this event as "The single biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history."
By May 24, 2012, the "Casseroles" series of nightly protests had rapidly expanded to most Montreal residential neighborhoods outside of the usual protest routes. Inspired by the cacerolazos of Chile in 1971, these involved residents banging on pots and pans from their windows or taking to the streets with their kitchenware at 8 o'clock. A viral amateur video of one such protest in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood further fueled this phenomenon.
On May 31, the Quebec government stated that it was pulling out of talks meant to end the protest after four days of negotiations with student leaders, without having reached a stable consensus. By that day, more than 150,000 students were estimated to be on strike.
After the announcement by ministerial decree of tuition freeze on September 5, 2012, the remaining student associations on strike voted to return to class.
Bill 78 
On May 16, soon after the appointment of Michelle Courchesne, she and Premier Charest announced their plan to introduce Bill 78. The bill is titled "An Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend," and restricts freedom of assembly, protest, or picketing on or near university grounds, and anywhere in Quebec without prior police approval. The bill also places restrictions upon the right of education employees to strike.
The Bill would end the winter semester at the 14 remaining CEGEPs and 11 university faculties at which students were still on strike. As a result, students would be granted an early summer break, and would take their winter courses in August and their Fall semester would be delayed to October instead of September.
This special bill contained several controversial sections. Louis Masson, head of the Bar of Quebec has questioned the law's constitutionality, though the Canadian Press has stated that some members are upset with this position. A Laval law professor stated, "Read it. Stunned. Can’t believe that a democratic government can adopt such a law." Professor Lucie Lemonde of Université de Montréal's law department stated the law was the second worst on record next to the War Measures Act. Protestors have also entered her classroom and prevented her classes from taking place. Michel Leblanc, president and chief executive of the Metropolitan Montreal Trade Association has welcomed the new law as a way to protect downtown businesses, and André Poulin of Destination Centre-Ville has been supportive. The Bill has also received support from the Quebec Council of Employers, with its president, Yves-Thomas Dorval, stating that because of "the failure to comply with court orders issued in the past few weeks, the bill will have to include measures strong enough to achieve this objective in order to serve as a deterrent."
While some students and law professors have been critical of the impact of Bill 78 on fundamental rights, Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier has stated that there has been no equivalent respect given to non-striking students' rights to their education, and that the intent of the law is to return calm to Quebec society. Again, some business leaders in downtown Montreal, the epicenter of the crisis, have come out in favour of the Bill due to the damage being done to local establishments.
Red square 
Other squares 
After the red square became a well-known symbol in Quebec, other groups decided to use squares of varying colours to promote their own viewpoints.
On June 12, 2012, some protesters were referring to local police authorities as SS and anti-police pamphlets using the swastikas were distributed. The use of the Nazi symbolism was quickly decried by several Jewish organizations in the Montreal Gazette. Although it is said that protesters were using these symbols to condemn the recent tactics use by the local police, the CLASSE has implored its members to stop using these symbols.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 2012 Quebec student protests|
- 1996 Quebec student protests
- 2005 Quebec student protests
- Quebec general election, 2003
- Quebec general election, 2012
- Politics of Quebec
- Students' union
- Student protest
- Bill 78
- Banerjee, Sidhartha (2012-05-25). "Quebec Student Protests: 2,500 Arrests And Counting". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- "La grève étudiante sur le web". Radio-Canada. 2 April 2012.
- Forte mobilisation, calme et bonne humeur pour la manifestation contre la hausse des droits de scolarité », sur Radio-Canada, le 21 avril 2012.
- "Over 165,000 Students On Strike in Quebec Over Planned Tuition Hikes". therealnews.com.
- Schonbek, Amelia (September 2012). "The Long March". The Walrus: 15–16.
- "Droits de scolarité au Québec : un débat de société". src.ca.
- "Quebec student group rejects Liberal proposal to end strike". National Post. 29 April 2012.
- Mathieu Pigeon. "Education in Québec, before and after the Parent reform". McCord Museum. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
- Ouimet, Michèle. "La belle vie". La Presse. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
- Bank of Canada. "Bank of Canada Inflation Calculator". Bankofcanada.ca.
- "National – The Globe and Mail". M.theglobeandmail.com.
- "How much will it cost you?". Government of Quebec. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- McDonald, L. Ian. "Students don't know how good they have it". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- Hopper, Tristin. "Time for Quebec to end equalization addiction: Montreal think-tank". The National Post. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- "Un étudiant risque de perdre l'usage d'un oeil". La Presse. lapresse.ca. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- Santerre, David. "David Santerre, Pont Champlain bloqué : plusieurs étudiants arrêtés". La Presse, March 20, 2012.
- Leila Lemghalef (May 7, 2012). "Protests mark Quebec's attempt to hike tuition fees". Reuters Canada. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Victoriaville: une dizaine de blessés, une centaine d'arrestations". La Presse. lapresse.ca. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
- "Blessés à Victoriaville: enquête indépendante demandée". La Presse. lapresse.ca. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- Séguin, Rhéal (May 15, 2012). "Education minister's exit leaves Charest holding the bag". Globe and Mail (Canada). Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Canada. "Molotov cocktails launched in Montreal protests following legal crackdown". Globe and Mail (Canada).[dead link]
- "Conservative MP Blake Richards’ proposed crackdown on masked protesters goes too far.". Toronto Star. May 9, 2012.
- TU THANH HA AND Les Perreaux (May 5, 2012). "Anti-protest legislation passes in Quebec". Globe and Mail (Canada).
- "Mick Jagger and Arcade Fire — The Last Time". Saturday Night Live. NBC.com. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- Gabrielle Duchaine (May 20, 2012). "27e manif nocturne: plus de 300 arrestations". La Presse. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
- Martin Lukacs (May 24, 2012). "Quebec's 'truncheon law' rebounds as student strike spreads". London: The Guardian UK. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- Amy Goodman (May 25, 2012). "PMaple Spring: Nearly 1,000 Arrested as Mass Quebec Student Strike Passes 100th Day". Democracy Now. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- James Mennie (May 23, 2012). "Peaceful day march, heated night demo". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- "Casserole Pan-Demonium in Quebec". Interactive Graphic (CBC News Canada). Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- "Casserole Protests Ring Out Across Quebec". Aricle. CTV News Montreal. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- Posted: May 31, 2012 4:39 PM ET (2012-06-01). "Quebec student talks collapse and more protests loom — Montreal — CBC News". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- "Quebec to suspend school semester amid protests". CTV.ca. May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Blatchford, Andy (April 16, 2010). "Quebec student bill 'worst law' since War Measures Act: law professor". Winnipeg Free Press.
- Blatchford, Andy (April 16, 2010). "Quebec student bill 'worst law' since War Measures Act: law professor". Winnipeg Free Press.
- Lemieux,, Patrick (18 May 2012). Bill 78 "Quebec Employers Council President offers comments" (Press release). Canada NewsWire.
- Les Perreaux And Rhéal Séguin (May 1, 2012). "Quebec’s emergency law blasted by critics". Globe and Mail (Canada).
- Patrick Lemieux (May 18, 2012). "Bill 78 - Quebec Employers Council President offers comments". Canada Newswire. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- Gaudreau, Valérie (31 March 2012). "Le tour du carré rouge (French)". Le Soleil. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
- "Un carré rouge flottant sur le pont Jacques-Cartier". TVA Nouvelles. 6 April 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
- Marc Allard (8 mars 2012). "Grève étudiante : vifs débats dans les cégeps". Le Soleil.
- "Le carré vert nouveau symbole". Le Quotidien. 23 February 2012. p. 6..
- Julie Marcoux,« Carré jaune », TVA Nouvelles, 27 March 2012.
- Ian Bussières,« Les manifs ne s'essoufflent pas », Le Soleil, 27 May 2012.
- Marie-Pier Duplessis,Conflit étudiant : place au carré blanc de l'armistice », Le Soleil, 10 May 2012.
- Sidhartha Banerjee (June 12, 2012). "Bill 78 - Jewish groups decry Nazi salutes at Quebec student protests". The Gazette. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- "Rouge au carré" (Requires Adobe Flash). Interactive documentary on Quebec student protests (in French). Montreal: National Film Board of Canada and Urbania. Retrieved 16 July 2012.