All Posts Tagged With: "Pauline Marois"
Bottles and chunks of ice thrown at police
People who thought they’d seen the last of the nighttime protests in Montreal streets against tuition fee increases heard the familiar drone of police helicopters over the city core Tuesday night as the noctural gnashing of teeth by students over the cost of their education was renewed, boiling over into a battle with police.
Montreal’s first nighttime tuition-fee protest in several months was almost a mirror image of the demonstrations that filled the city’s streets last year. The biggest change was that protesters were chanting against Premier Pauline Marois instead of Jean Charest, who also tried to jack up tuition when he was premier.
And like some of last year’s marches, Tuesday night’s protest ended with the crash of breaking plate glass splitting the night, the scream of police sirens and the clatter of batons against riot shields as police charged the thousands of demonstrators.
It was the second repudiation in a week of Marois’ declaration that student unrest had been put to rest.
Social peace was one of the Parti Quebecois premier’s campaign platforms in last year’s provincial election and she declared mission accomplished at the conclusion of a summit on education last week. That was where she also announced her government would increase fees by three per cent, which was less than the Liberals.
Students protested after the summit and Tuesday night they were out in force again, this time rekindling the nighttime march which was a fixture of last year’s student unrest. Most were peaceful, but some of those marches turned violent and led to mass arrests.
The call for Tuesday’s march summed up that little had changed from the marches of the past.
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.”
What students are talking about today (February 26th)
1. Lakehead University students say that the school’s decision to change a course that will be offered in the new law program will water down the Aboriginal Studies component, reports CBC News. Lee Stuesser, the law school’s dean, says it will still address First Nations issues and that one reason for the change is that past Ontario law deans have raised concerns about non-law courses taught in law schools. “I felt the best thing to do was to make it a law course because my experience over the years has been that law students like law courses, and if they perceive something’s not a law course, then there’s a large measure of dissatisfaction,” he told CBC. Coincidentally, a new report from Frank Iacobucci, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, says this country needs to urgently address the crisis of Aboriginal under-representation on juries. While on the topic of legal education, Memorial University of Newfoundland has announced it’s exploring the feasibility of a law school in St. John’s.
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.
It may become more difficult to attend English CEGEPs
English-rights activists in Quebec are raising concerns about a proposed new language law they say infringes on their rights.
The new law is intended to build on Quebec’s landmark language legislation, Bill 101, to strengthen French language in the province.
But protesters, who gathered outside Premier Pauline Marois’ office on Sunday, say they feel under attack by the Parti Quebecois government. The group is worried about new rules designed to encourage French in small businesses, municipalities and post-secondary education.
Many waved Canadian flags and wore toques featuring the Maple Leaf as they stood on a frigid downtown street corner. As the demonstration wound down, the protesters broke into a rendition of O Canada.
“We still belong to the country of Canada and we still have our rights,” said Christopher Rose, a 27-year-old Montrealer.
“There shouldn’t be any quarrels here in Quebec… There’s nothing wrong with being bilingual, there’s nothing wrong with English, and there’s nothing wrong with French either.”
ASSE calls for protest on Feb. 26
Premier Pauline Marois says it’s too bad a major Quebec student union group will boycott the province’s much-touted summit on post-secondary education because it’s depriving itself of the right to be heard.
The more hardline ASSE group says it will skip the upcoming summit because the Parti Quebecois government has refused to consider the option of free university tuition.
Instead, group spokesman Jeremie Bedard-Wien says he’s calling for a large popular and student demonstration during the summit on Feb. 26.
Marois says she regrets the group’s decision and points out the event will discuss a variety of subjects, not just tuition fees.
PQ youth want tuition frozen then eliminated
Quebec student groups didn’t get along well with the province’s Liberal government — and now things don’t seem too rosy with the ruling Parti Quebecois.
The two sides appear to be at odds over tuition rates in the lead-up to a summit on post-secondary education.
PQ Premier Pauline Marois says she wants to reduce the student debt load, but won’t rule out a tuition increase tied to inflation.
But many student groups are pushing for a freeze on tuition rates.
Huge protests erupted last spring over the former Liberal government’s planned increases, with thousands of students taking to the streets.
Marois scrapped the increases after the PQ took power in September.
At a PQ delegate meeting in Drummondville, Que. on the weekend, Marois faced some pressure from the youth wing to further reduce tuition rates.
Many sport red squares of student movement
Montreal police arrested more than 30 people, including nine minors, during a second day of protests against Quebec’s northern development plan.
Demonstrators gathered on Saturday outside a job fair at the city’s convention centre, where businesses and workers were meeting to discuss opportunities in the natural resources sector.
Police spokesman Ian Lafreniere said at least one window was smashed and a flare gun was fired inside the building.
“We tolerate protests but not criminal acts like this, so we decided to break up the protest,” Lafreniere said.
In a scene reminiscent of last spring’s student protests, lines of riot police were used to break up the crowd and protesters who were arrested were held on city buses.
From the turmoil of Quebec to the rise of the West
It was a record year for Maclean’s On Campus with more readers than ever, but perhaps that’s unsurprising considering how much there was to talk about. Based on clicks and comments, here are the top five campus news stories of 2012.
1. Quebec student groups helped toss a government and won a tuition freeze.
In March, Quebec student groups declared war on a planned tuition hike of roughly $2,000 over five years. By April, students at 11 of Quebec’s 18 universities and 14 of its 48 CEGEPs had declared “strikes” and were skipping classes. There were nightly marches in Montreal that made life miserable for many who lived and worked downtown. Students who dared go to classes, even after judges orders allowing them to return, were stopped by masked protesters. The nightly marches started turning violent and threatened the tourism industry. Something had to be done.
Astronauts, McGill’s budget cuts and UBC’s animal research
1. McGill University’s board of governors spoke out for the first time Thursday on the Parti Québécois government’s mandate to cut $20-million in spending by April, and the CBC reports their response is pretty clear: They’re not gonna take it. McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum told the CBC the cuts are “draconian, unpredictable, [and] ineffective.” Quebec’s universities are under order to cut $120-million in the next four months, but McGill is in a particular pickle: the university’s budget was set last spring, before the student protests against tuition hikes that consumed Montreal and led PQ leader Pauline Marois to announce a tuition freeze in September. McGill contends the cuts are impossible, and is board is asking the provincial government to revoke the cuts and honour its original commitment to the school’s budget.
2. The University of British Columbia released 2011 data on animals involved in its research today, reporting a total of 225,043 animal used in research in 2011, up from 211,604 in 2010. The university’s animal research wing has received negative attention in the past (particularly from a 2010 report from the Canadian Council on Animal Care), but The Province reports that university scientists defended their work at a media briefing before the data was released, pointing to medical advancements made as a result of animal testing. The 2011 report says the majority of the animals used in 2011 were rodents, reptiles, fish and amphibians. UBC’s vice-president of research told The Province sometimes there are no other alternatives: “Animal research is not going away at this time.”
Price will return to $2,168
The tuition increase that triggered such social strife in Quebec was cancelled Thursday during an action-packed first full day in office for the Parti Quebecois government.
The new government repealed the fee hike, by decree, in its first cabinet meeting less than 24 hours after coming to power.
Student leaders cheered the news.
“Together we’ve written a chapter in the history of Quebec,” said Martine Desjardins, head of the more moderate university student association.
“It’s a triumph of justice and equity.”
PQ says it will index tuition to rate of inflation
Quebec student leaders are ready to face off against any plans the newly elected Parti Quebecois may have to increase tuition fees.
Students claimed a cautious victory after premier-designate Pauline Marois promised to reverse tuition increases for college and university students.
Less than 24 hours after the PQ won a minority in the Sept. 4 election, Marois announced she would undo the hikes introduced this year by the Liberal government of outgoing Premier Jean Charest.
For now, the near-daily protests in Montreal have come to a halt.
The downtown park where hundreds, and often thousands, of protesters gathered nightly for marches over the past few months has gone quiet. Classes have resumed at Quebec’s junior colleges and universities.
Premier-designate will cancel tuition hikes by cabinet decree
Premier-designate Pauline Marois says she will do her best to push ahead the more contentious parts of her campaign platform despite her minority-government status.
Marois, whose Parti Quebecois won 54 of the province’s 125 ridings on Tuesday, conceded the difficulty of the task ahead given that the Liberals have 50 members and Francois Legault’s Coalition party has 19.
In an indication of her political limitations, Marois never once referred to an independence referendum during her post-election news conference and no reporter bothered asking about one.
She said she will try to make progress on the more divisive parts of her platform — those dealing with language, culture and federal-provincial relations — but will need to seek consensus from the other parties.
Michelle Obama, Quebec election, Adderall & Harry Potter
1. U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama gave a heartwarming speech at last night’s Democratic National Convention. She mentioned that she and her husband Barack struggled with college debt, contrasting them with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. She said her husband believes “success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”
2. The Gateway student newspaper obtained documents that “revealed serious health and safety concerns” in Lister Residence at the University of Alberta, where alcohol was recently banned in common areas. Problems included “a Floor Coordinator and a student vomiting on each other, collecting it in a pitcher, and having a third student drink it.” Serious concerns indeed.
3. Another student paper, The Harvard Crimson, has done something less impressive: run online advertisements for ADDTabz, the “Adderall Alternative.” Adderall is a prescription-only stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder. It is sold illegally as a study aid. This advertising partnership seems rather unbecoming of an Ivy League school, much like last week’s cheating scandal.
One dead, one injured at Parti Quebecois victory rally
What should have been an historic moment in Quebec — the election of its first woman premier — was tainted Tuesday night as an angry year of discontent reached its nadir.
“What’s going on?” an obviously concerned Pauline Marois said to one of her provincial police bodyguards as he plucked her by the elbow from her moment of triumph and whisked her from the stage at her victory rally in a bubble of burly plainclothes cops.
The premier-elect cast searching glances over her shoulder as she was moved quickly away, with a climate of confusion sweeping over the room.
It was only when audience members left that they learned what had happened: the acrimony of debate in the province in the last few years had been ratcheted up another chilling notch and charged into their midst.
Women banned, Niki Minaj, “oversharing” and Jack Layton
1. Iran has banned women, who make up 60 per cent of its university students, from 77 subjects including accounting, engineering and pure chemistry. At the University of Tehran, forestry and mathematics are off limits too. Last year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad considered segregating men and women entirely on campuses. Could this new ban be punishment for all the women who protested his apparent election fraud in 2009?
2. An Oklahoma high school valedictorian was denied her diploma because she said the word “hell” during her commencement speech and then refused to apologize. Kaitlin Nootbaar quoted a commencement speech from the Twilight series film Eclipse. “I quoted, ‘They ask us now what we want be and we say who the hell knows,’” she told The Toronto Star. She meant to say “heck.”
Is it political pandering for Parti Quebecois leader to stop wearing the symbol of the Quebec student movement?
From Blog Central on Macleans.ca, by Martin Patriquin
There is something very odd going on over at PQ (pre) election headquarters these days. the province is teetering on an election call: The Liberal Party of Quebec put out this video in which Jean Charest, looking like a totally humourless version of the Glad Garbage man, gives us a campaign-style reminder of how great his government is. PQ leader Pauline Marois quickly appeared in a campaign-style rebuke of Charest’s video. Last week, the PQ emblazoned its website with the red square, that small piece of scarlet felt that supporters of the student movement have taken to safety pinning to their lapels.
And then, days later, it was gone. As gone as it was from Marois’s own lapel, where it has been since the beginning of the student strike roughly four months ago. “I won’t wear it anymore,” Marois said recently. “I have chosen to wear the fleur de lis.”
The disappearance is odder still when you consider how much political capital Marois et al. have invested in the student cause. She has repeatedly hammered Charest on the government’s treatment of the students—criticism that only overflowed once the Liberals introduced Bill
178 78 (thx @jocelynlegault.) Marois recently accused Charest of purposefully prolonging the student strike for political ends.
You have to wonder whether Marois herself is guilty of political pandering. Certainly, that’s what some students think. ”It doesn’t surprise me that Pauline Marois decided to stop wearing the red square because it wasn’t real support for the students,” a CEGEP student told the Gazette. “The only reason she was opposing the tuition fee increase was because the Liberals were doing it but a Pequiste government wanted to do it too.”
Perhaps Marois realized (rather late) what has been clear in the polls since the outset of the strike: most Quebecers—nearly 70 per cent, according to a recent CROP takeout on the subject—side with the government’s position, if not the government itself.