For a year and a half, the student movement has been mobilizing and organizing actions in order to stop the increase in tuition fees. Student representatives have attempted discussions in good faith with the government, but without success. On December 6, 2010, thousands of us were in Québec City to demonstrate against the hike and more than 30,000 signed a petition for the same purpose. Symbolic actions were held across Québec, and student rallies disrupted the activities of the Liberal Party. We burst into the offices of the Ministry of Finance as well as those of presidents and principals to demonstrate that the student movement will not back down. March 31, 2011, more than 60,000 students were on strike for the same cause. On November 10th 30,000 were in the streets. But it’s always the same answer: Charest stubbornly refuses to listen to the people. We’ll have to strike harder!
The student movement in action !
History of recent actions against the hike
Winter 2010: Announcement of new fee hikes
On February 11, 2010 former Education Minister Michelle Courchesne told reporters that a consensus would develop in Québec in favor of higher tuition fees and that from this « consensus », she of course, excluded the students. Just six days later, hundreds of students demonstrated against this statement. Then, the provincial budget was released in March and the tuition hike was confirmed for 2012.
Spring-Summer 2010: The student movement warns the government
On April 1, 40,000 students were on strike in a protest against rising fees in public services. Student associations from all backgrounds, community groups and unions joined to denounce the antisocial measures in this budget, including rising tuition.
Fall 2010: The mobilization begins
On Sept. 24, the offices of the new Education Minister Line Beauchamp were occupied by fifty students. On October 21, hundreds of students met in Montreal to denounce the bogus consultation that the government organized to legitimize the increase of tuition fees. December 6, 60,000 students were on strike in order to protest against the meeting in Québec City. On December 9, a petition of 30,000 signatures against the hike was delivered to the National Assembly.
Winter 2011: The amount of the increase is announced
The months of January and February were marked by an explosion of local initiatives across Québec: regional events, banner drops, petitions, office occupations of university administrators, etc… On March 12, a demonstration organized by trade unions and student associations brought together 50,000 people in Montreal to oppose the anti-social measures of the 2011 budget, which were tabled on March 17. Proving that the Charest government is not listening to the population, he announced an increase in tuition of $ 1,625 over five years from 2012.
Spring 2011: The student movement fights back
The evening of that announcement, a symbolic march brought together over 200 students at UQAM. Across Québec, there were several occupations of members’ offices. On March 20, the meeting of the young liberals was disturbed by students and on March 24, students occupied the offices of the Ministry of Finance. On March 31, 50,000 students were on strike to participate in another demonstration against rising tuition fees. One hundred students then occupied the offices of the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec (CRÉPUQ), which has a position in favor of higher fees.
Summer 2011: Students are preparing …
During the summer, a few brilliant actions took place and a camp was built before the Department of Education. There is a consensus within the student movement. On May 7 and 8 2011, a national meeting of more than 200 delegates of student associations representing over 200,000 students voted unanimously against rising tuition fees.
Fall 2011: unprecedented mobilization around Québec
At the beginning of the semester, all student associations in Québec agreed to hold a joint demonstration against the increase of tuition fees on November 10th. October was then punctuated with small events in Saguenay, Quebec, Montreal, Rimouski, Trois-Rivières and even in Abitibi. Mobilization takes an unexpectedly large turn when tens of thousands of students are in favor of one-day strike for November 10. The joint protest is a success in terms of mobilization: more than 30,000 students march in Montreal for the occasion and half the students in Quebec are on strike that day. The student movement has seen a event of this magnitude since March 16, 2005, the heart of a general strike against cuts in grants and loans …
Winter 2012: Towards a general strike!
After two years of protests, petitions, spectacular actions, open letters, etc., the government remains obstinate. It is time to use our ultimate means of action, one that has achieved the most real victories for students: an open-ended general strike!