All Posts Tagged With: "education summit"
Man, 29, accused of possessing explosives, threats
A man arrested on a terrorism-related charge during a student protest this week in Quebec will remain behind bars for now.
Denis Marc Pelletier was in a Montreal courtroom Thursday for what was supposed to have been a bail hearing, but the case did not proceed as planned.
A new lawyer and evidence disclosure pushed the bail hearing back to at least March 8, and perhaps later.
The Crown has already indicated that it will oppose bail in Pelletier’s case due to the nature of the charges against him.
The 29-year-old man is facing at least seven charges, including possession of explosives, possession of an arson device and uttering threats.
A charge of inciting terrorism stems from alleged postings on a social media site that police observed last weekend.
Leo Bureau-Blouin’s office hit with red paint
A former leader within Quebec’s student movement is taking flak from some of his old allies now that he’s an elected politician and tuition fees are going up.
Leo Bureau-Blouin, who was elected last fall under the Parti Quebecois banner, says he’s gotten threats and attacks on a Facebook page he uses to publicize a monthly meeting with constituents.
Some of the posters on the page called him a “loser” and “traitor.”
Bureau-Blouin’s constituency office was targeted in protests earlier this week and had red paint splattered on it during the night.
Premier Pauline Marois announced at the end of a summit on education on Tuesday that the government was rejecting calls for a tuition freeze. Instead, fees are being hiked three per cent in accordance with the cost of living.
That’s about $70 per year.
Anarchists, arrests, riot police and plenty of red squares
Montreal freelance reporter Justin Ling snapped these photos of Tuesday’s anti-tuition protest in Montreal where 13 were arrested. To learn more about the debate in Quebec, check out this report from The Canadian Press and read Ling’s commentary on Premier Marois’ missed opportunity.
Protest proves Quebec tuition debate is far from over
Sure enough, a young man in front of me turned around, his face contorted, hands clasped over his ears. Yes, that was a stun grenade.
Thousands of protesting students, led by the radical Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ), clashed with cops in the east end of Montreal and got pepper spray, tear gas and stun grenades in return on Tuesday afternoon following Quebec’s big education summit.
Across town at the summit, the collegial attitude of the moderate Fédération Etudiante Universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) and Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) student factions was greeted with handshaking and the imposition of a year three per cent tuition hike.
The protesting students in the east end chanted, “Parti Quebecois: Parti Bourgeoise!” They denounced erstwhile student leader cum PQ golden boy Léo Bureau-Blouin who ditched FECQ* for a seat in the National Assembly. They mocked former ally, now premier, Pauline Marois. They demanded the abolition of tuition fees.
Quebec premier says confrontations are “behind us”
Without the salvos of snowballs pelting police, the chunks of ice flying through the air, and the officers chasing protesters across a snowy plaza, this could easily have been a scene lifted from the “Maple Spring.”
The clash in downtown Montreal was a mid-winter twist on the student demonstrations that shook the city on a near-daily basis last spring and summer.
Thousands of people marched through the streets Tuesday in a protest that coincided with the end of Quebec’s summit on higher education.
This time, protesters were venting at a different government.
The two-day summit saw the newly elected Parti Quebecois announce three-per-cent-a-year tuition hikes. The PQ’s new fees are significantly lower than the ones proposed by the previous Liberal government — about one-fifth as much.
Premier Pauline Marois had left the conference feeling confident enough to declare that Quebec’s era of social unrest was over.
“We have succeeded in putting the confrontations behind us,” Marois said in the closing address of a Montreal summit that assembled students’ associations, university leaders, unions and social groups.
“The social crisis is behind us.”
A few hours later, signs of the familiar tumult re-emerged.
On the other side of town, armoured police confronted projectile-throwing protesters in a sequel to the clashes that drew international attention last year.
The demonstration blocked streets, altered bus routes and saw police drag some marchers out of the crowds in order to arrest them.
The skirmishes led to 13 arrests, mostly for unlawful assembly and assault with a weapon. Two of those arrested were carrying Molotov cocktails, police said.
The police department said one officer was injured.
Last year, Quebec’s first student strikes of began in mid-February and they grew into a social movement that saw nightly street marches.
At issue was the $1,625 tuition increase over five years planned by the previous Liberal government.
The PQ cancelled the Liberals’ hikes after it won power in September and this week it announced scaled-down increases of its own. Its proposed hike will raise tuition by one-fifth of the Liberal plan — $70 per year, or roughly $350 after the first five years.
Earlier in the day, Marois had conceded that her small tuition hikes wouldn’t please everyone — not the student groups, nor the university administrators who said they needed more cash.
“We had some difficulties (finding a consensus) with the tuition, but the responsibility of the government is to decide — and I decided,” Marois told reporters after the summit.
Even the more moderate student groups, who participated in the summit, called the three-per-cent annual increases unacceptable.
They had requested an absolute freeze on tuition. Instead, they got what some of them called a perpetual tuition hike.
“We’re really disappointed about the fact the tuition fees are going up,” said Martine Desjardins, president of Quebec’s largest student federation, who attended the summit.
She said she had hoped the government would have debated the issue further.
But students, Desjardins added, did not leave the summit empty-handed. She credited the government with providing some extra funds for the financial-aid program and establishing a committee to examine mandatory student fees.
Student leaders will now consult their members about the next step.
The march Tuesday in Montreal, meanwhile, was the first of more student protests expected in the province. The movement is planning to stage nightly demonstrations starting next week.
It’s not yet clear how many student groups, and protesters, will participate in the demonstrations.
Thousands hit the streets Tuesday in a march organized by ASSE, one of Quebec’s more-radical student federations.
The group boycotted the education summit and has long demanded free university tuition.
“We will not cease mobilizing, we will not cease demonstrating, we will not cease these actions,” Jeremie Bebard-Wien, a spokesman for ASSE, said of Tuesday’s protest.
“We will keep coming back to remind the government that the summit was not what we expected and that a tuition hike will not pass.”
He predicted that it would take time, however, for the movement to gain steam again.
While his group said 50,000 students agreed to a one-day strike Tuesday, those at some schools with a reputation for militancy actually voted to stay in class.
Inside the tight security bubble that shielded the summit, students weren’t the only ones who disagreed with the PQ government’s plans for the education system.
Some university administrators left the long-awaited event with deep concerns their schools are at risk of under-funding, due to a cut in their budgets by $125 million in 2012-13 and again in 2013-14.
“The university system remains anaemic and it will be bled of $250 million in the coming years,” Universite de Montreal rector Guy Breton told the summit.
Breton warned of a looming crisis that could imperil some university programs — including medicine — unless the government increases university funding.
“The patient is far from being in good health — I guarantee that,” he said.
Others saw the PQ government’s indexed tuition increases as too small, a plan that would pile more burden on taxpayers who didn’t go to university.
“You’ve obtained an artificial consensus… in this room where the vast majority is excluded,” said interim Liberal leader Jean-Marc Fournier, who then pointed to the challenges of lower-earning Quebecers.
“You’re asking (students) to pay a little less, someone else will pay instead.”
In an abrupt reversal of roles compared to 2012, it was the PQ government dealing with uproar in the streets.
While she was Opposition leader, Marois wore the student movement’s signature red square in the national assembly and even took part in a pot-banging protest that became commonplace in the province.
One marcher held up a sign Tuesday that read: “Pauline, where’s your casserole (pot)?”
During the closing news conference of the summit, Marois was asked about her declaration that social harmony had been restored.
“I’m very at ease telling you that the divisions are now behind us,” she said.
“That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any tension; that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any disagreements.”
—Andy Blatchford with files from Peter Rakobowchuk
Within hours, protesters clash with police
Apart from the barrage of snowballs being pelted at police, the chunks of ice flying through the air, and officers charging at protesters across a snowy square, this could easily have been a scene lifted from the “Maple Spring.”
The clash in downtown Montreal was a mid-winter variation on the kind of event that occurred on a near-daily basis, making international headlines, last spring and summer.
Thousands of people marched at the end of a tuition summit Tuesday in which the new Parti Quebecois provincial government announced three-per-cent-a-year tuition hikes.
Its new fees are significantly lower than the ones proposed by the previous Liberal government — about one-fifth as much.
Premier Pauline Marois left the conference feeling confident enough to declare that Quebec’s era of social unrest was over.
“We have succeeded in putting the confrontations behind us,” Marois said in the closing address of a two-day summit that assembled students’ associations, university leaders, unions and social groups.
“The social crisis is behind us.”
Scenes from the demonstration (#manifencours)
Unclear how many will participate in today’s protest
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is declaring that unrest in her province related to student protests is over, one year and one week after it began.
Marois says the debate over tuition-fee hikes that saw protests sweep Quebec is “now behind us.”
Speaking at an education summit in Montreal, the newly elected premier conceded that her small tuition hikes won’t please everyone — neither the more militant protesters, nor the more cash-hungry university administrators.
But she is expressing hope that she’s managed to bring some social peace to the province.
Plan would raise fees by $70 per year
Quebec students who staged a memorable series of protests last spring could see their efforts result in a roughly 80 per cent discount on planned tuition hikes.
The Parti Quebecois government has tabled its plan for tuition increases, a long-awaited development in a political dispute that rocked Quebec last year and was dubbed by students as the Maple Spring.
The plan involves indexing university tuition by three per cent a year — which amounts to about $70 annually. That is sharply lower than the $325 yearly hikes sought by the previous Liberal government, which then adjusted the proposed increases to $254 per year, over seven years.
The planned hikes prompted huge and often rowdy protests, with the PQ siding with the student protesters ahead of last summer’s election campaign.
Premier Pauline Marois then cancelled the Liberal tuition increases after taking power.
Politicians’ offices vandalized
Quebec’s long-awaited education summit kicked off under heavy security Monday, a year after a student crisis rattled the province.
Steel crowd-control barriers, a gauntlet of security checkpoints and bag searches greeted participants at the Montreal building housing the two-day event.
Inside the venue, the discussions were courteous. School administrators, politicians, student leaders and social groups outlined their visions for Quebec’s post-secondary education system, talks that explored topics such as university funding and financial aid for students.
Outside the building, police officers circled the neighbourhood on bicycle, sat in vans packed with riot gear and discretely kept watch over the area from the shadows of residential doorways.
The streets around the hall were quiet, however, except for a small group of professors protesting tuition-fee hikes Monday.
It was in stark contrast to the months of massive, nightly protests that consumed Montreal last year in a student crisis sparked by the former Liberal government’s plans to hike tuition fees. The student movement dubbed itself the Maple Spring.
Five things students are talking about today (February 25th)
1. Maclean’s Jessica Allen has captured the Oscars in 33 Tweets, but if you’re looking for an even shorter summary, here’s what people are talking about. Jennifer Lawrence, the 22-year-old lead in Silver Linings Playbook, got great reviews for her billowy Dior gown, but managed to trip in it while accepting her Best Actress award. Kristen Stewart, also 22, limped onto the stage to present an award—she’d apparently cut her foot on broken glass—and looked very Lindsay Lohan. Argo won Best Picture and Ben Affleck thanked Canada. Ang Lee won Best Director for Life of Pi and also thanked Canadians. William Shatner’s opening sketch predicting bad reviews for Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s hosting turned out to be prescient. I thought he was funny but many criticized him today for his tasteless jokes. He did says says word “boobs” dozens of times, but at least he didn’t call 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis the c-word, which the satirical Onion did.
2. An attempt to impeach the president of the Commerce Society at Dalhousie University after he was found smoking marijuana in a hotel room at a Dal-hosted convention has failed, reports the Dalhousie Gazette. Unprofessional as it was, a majority of students are apparently willing to forgive.
3. Here’s a great gift idea for your depressed roommate on a budget. The Anti-Loneliness Ramen Bowl is a new form of dinnerware “that lets you place your iPhone at the perfect angle to watch videos or talk with friends over Skype and FaceTime,” explains Ishmael Daro on The Albatross. “Created by Japanese design firm MisoSoupDesign, these bowls are meant for the overlapping segment of a venn diagram for “nerdy” and “sad.” The company’s biggest mistake, however, is assuming that anyone who buys an iPhone-ready bowl has friends to talk to,” he writes.
4. A new company called NOMAD Housing says its goal is to supply Vancouver students with 100 square-foot two-story homes fully equipped with living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, reports The Ubyssey. Although I’m skeptical they can make them that small, as graduate of the University of British Columbia who paid $800 for a basement, I know the demand is there.
5. Today is the beginning of the long-awaited Quebec education summit that the Parti Quebecois promised after months of anti-tuition protests. Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells has read the Quebec media and was “struck by a recurring theme in French-language commentary.” He’s talking about “the feats of ingenuity being expended to justify giving McGill University less public money.” Although student political groups will mostly be watching to see how little the Parti Quebecois government will make them pay—my guess is they’ll stick with the current $2,200 plus inflation—Wells points out that some academics see this as an opportunity to beat up on English universities.
Student group says there won’t be second ‘Maple Spring’
Not even the most militant of Quebec’s student federations expects this week’s education summit to plunge the province into another Maple Spring.
Quebec gained international attention last year when a dispute over proposed tuition hikes boiled into a months-long uprising.
The unrest, dubbed the Maple Spring, saw thousands of protesters swarm Montreal streets night after night. The crisis eventually faded away, in part because the Liberals lost power and the incoming Parti Quebecois government cancelled the tuition increases.
The PQ stickhandled its way through the perilous political issue, during the election, by promising to come up with a new tuition policy at an education summit.
Some students are feeling disillusioned and boycotting the two-day summit, which starts Monday, because they believe the new government has tuned out some of their ideas.
The ranks of the restive, however, appear smaller than last year.
“We are aware… that there will not be a new Maple Spring,” said Blandine Parchemal of the ASSE student federation, one of the more militant groups within the movement.
“The Maple Spring is over.”
The once-powerful ASSE, led by its charismatic former spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, suffered several setbacks last week after it failed to gather support on a strike vote from a number of its associations.
The most symbolic setback came at a college near Montreal known as a bastion of activism, which was the first school to declare a strike last February in an event that kicked off the movement.
This time, College de Valleyfield not only voted against the strike, it tabled a motion to disassociate itself from ASSE.
That doesn’t mean the tuition divide between students and the government has disappeared.
One of the major sticking points is the PQ government’s intention to freeze rates, which are the lowest in Canada, but to introduce small increases indexed to inflation.
Some student federations that made up last year’s protest movement have drawn a line in the sand at an absolute tuition freeze.
They say they refuse to accept indexation.
ASSE, meanwhile, decided to boycott the summit completely over the government’s refusal to debate the group’s desire for zero tuition.
They view free university as an achievable goal, if only policy-makers would make it a priority like in many other jurisdictions. Former premier Jacques Parizeau, who as a young civil servant in the 1960s helped build the province’s university network, expressed support for their cause.
The federation is now planning to take its battle back into the streets. ASSE has planned to stage a protest Tuesday outside the summit venue.
With memories of last year’s clashes with demonstrators, Montreal police pledge to be present in large numbers and will maintain a security perimeter around the summit’s building.
Student associations representing junior colleges and universities affiliated with ASSE have also voted to hold a one-day strike on Tuesday.
But any protest revival from within ASSE faces an uphill climb. Several of its member unions voted last week against the strike, including those from some of the most militant schools during last year’s uprising.
“There’s a lot of exhaustion,” said Parchemal, ASSE’s secretary of academic affairs. She was referring to the compressed, intensive academic schedules students have had to endure after the 2012 strikes cancelled sessions.
She maintained, however, that the associations that voted against the strike still oppose indexation and support free tuition. Parchemal added that some schools that voted against strikes last year, actually supported the most recent one.
That stood in contrast to places like College de Valleyfield — where the vote was 366 against the strike and 124 in favour of it, said a student-union representative.
“We didn’t expect to be crushed like that,” said Cedrick Mainville, himself a supporter of the strike.
He blamed the loss on student fears that a Yes vote would lead to a prolonged strike like last year.
ASSE’s approach is much different than that of FEUQ, the largest student group in the province. The organization, which says it represents 125,000 students, plans to take its concerns to the summit’s negotiating tables rather than into the streets.
FEUQ president Martine Desjardins believes the student movement still has many potential avenues to explore before presenting a strike vote.
“Before that, you need to prove that you’ve tried everything that you could,” said Desjardins, who led FEUQ during last year’s protests.
When asked if students in her federation would be prepared to strike over indexation, she said it’s too early to know.
“We’re not planning strikes, for example, in two weeks,” she said. “It will take much more time to convince students to ramp up the pressure.”
Desjardins disagrees with ASSE’s decision to boycott the summit, a step she believes could hinder the process.
Last year’s student unrest was ignited by opposition to the Liberal government’s proposal to boost tuition rates by $325 per year, over five years. The government later tweaked the planned increases to $254 per year, over seven years.
Even though the hike still would have left Quebec with some of the lowest tuition in Canada, many students insisted they opposed the increase out of principle.
Some demanded a freeze to keep fees from inching closer to the higher rates in other provinces. Others called education a right that should be free, just like in some European countries.
The Marois government appears to be aiming for the middle ground with indexation, somewhere between a freeze and the increases proposed by the former Liberal government.
A recent poll suggested the PQ’s middle-ground indexation solution had strong public support.
That’s a far cry from the spring, when the PQ’s early alignment with the protesters — such as wearing red squares in the national assembly and banging on pots and pans in the streets — came to be viewed as a political liability.
But the PQ did take some steps to try distancing itself from the protesters in the weeks before the election.
It ditched the red squares, and started side-stepping questions about its own tuition policy by promising a summit.
Now that the moment has arrived, university administrators worry the meeting won’t address the serious issues they say are facing post-secondary institutions.
Relations between the PQ and the universities are already strained after the government announced a $124-million cut to universities in December, midway through the fiscal year.
Universities have gone on the offensive in the lead-up to the summit. At one of a series of town hall meetings, McGill University’s provost called the cuts “an unprecedented attack” on higher education.
Alan Shepard, president of Montreal’s Concordia University, said he’s concerned the summit will get bogged down in the debate over tuition fees and proposals like that one won’t see serious discussion.
Even with an increase tied to inflation, Quebec universities would remain woefully underfunded, he said.
“The difference is substantial when you compare the financing we have per student compared with the rest of Canada,” he said in an interview.
One idea being floated by Shepard and others is to introduce differential fees based on the subject, so that a student in dentistry or law school would pay substantially more than a history student.
If the funding issue isn’t somehow addressed, Shepard said Montreal risks losing what he called an “enormous jewel” – a hub for research and student learning at its four major universities.
Universite de Montreal rector Guy Breton said post-secondary institutions now realize they need to do a better job explaining their role. Last spring, he felt they were drowned out in a debate dominated by students and the government.
“The student message was two letters — n-o,” he said.
“Ours is much more complicated.”
—Andy Blatchford and Benjamin Shingler