The Québec Student Strike – Why we support it and why we condemn Bill 78
The Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC) believes the right to an education is one all citizens of the world must have access to. Moreover, that access should be without financial cost. Only by having an educated population can a country truly be free.
The Québecois fought their way out of the tyranny and darkness they were subjected to for almost two hundred years. One of the mainstays of their push for freedom lay in education. They made sure the cost of learning did not inhibit their citizens from engaging in education. Québec has had the most progressive legislation and social values for some decades. We believe this result from a greater access to education than most other Canadians.
A number of European countries provide free tuition at the university level. These countries – Finland, Austria, Norway, Germany, and Sweden – all enjoy a high standard of living and consistently rank among countries with the happiest populations (http://bit.ly/HLpr0Y).
Cuba, a country of limited means still finds the resources to provide a free education to all citizens who want it.
Since public health and public schools are already free in Canada, would it not make sense to also have a free university education? We think it does.
Rather than complaining that university tuition fees are too low in Quebec, Canadians should be complaining they are too high in the rest of the country. Students from less privileged families can’t afford to go to university while those who do graduate face huge debt loads. Fees should gradually be reduced until they are finally eliminated.
The government of Québec has instituted repressive legislation severely curtailing the right of assembly, association and of democratic expression to try and silence the voices of those who oppose the tuition hike in the province.
The CPPC condemns Bill 78 of the Charest government and calls on all progressives to mobilize full support for the Québec student strike. Bill 78 effectively erodes the right to protest – a right which is a lynchpin of democratic expression.
The same militarized police and state repression, developed by using rubber bullets and sound bombs against peaceful students, has been used against Aboriginal land reclamations and at the Toronto anti-G20 protests. They could easily be used next against any lawful gathering of progressive forces.
There is good reason why the student strike has been winning the support of broad layers of society, such as the progressive and labour movements. To defeat the repressive Bill 78 and prevent it from advancing to even further stages, we urge all progressives to stand together.
Strategic media reports tell of how the price of education in Québec is lower than most other provinces. What they neglect to mention are the benefits of such access. The CPPC believe that there is a price for education – and that that price is free!
We stand in solidarity with the students in Québec!
Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians