The student movement in Quebec faces an all-out offensive by the government.
For more than 90 days, more than 150,000 students in Quebec have been on an all-out indefinite strike against Quebec government plans to cut education funding and raise fees by 75%.
Demanding free education funded by taxing the rich, students have mounted mass demonstrations and confronted police violence. The government made a weak offer to representatives of the student protests at the beginning of May — but, following discussion in dozens of mass meetings around the province, students voted to reject it.
Now the government has passed Bill 78, which places stringent and extraordinary restrictions on all protests taking place before June 2013, and criminalises anyone organising or helping organise actions which fall outside strict limitations.
In response the student movement has mounted more demonstrations: flaming barricades were erected in the streets of Montreal on Saturday 18 May. Quebecois students, organised in the radical coalition CLASSE, have issued a statement:
“To submit oneself to this law is to accept it. We are witnessing a historic face off between the government and youth. This law is a test. If we submit ourselves to it, we are acknowledging the efficacy of its repression: the government wins. If it wins once, it will do it again.
“This law has come to break the already rattled confidence between the people and their institutions. Corruption and the influence of lobbies and economic interests on governments have birthed a political cynicism. ...This law deepens the nail in the coffin of Québécois democracy.
“With this law, the government is attacking much more than student associations: it is attacking the possibility that each woman and man should have to freely contest decisions that have been made in their names by those with political power.
“We affirm today that we refuse to capitulate to fear and intimidation. We stay loyal to our principles of individual and collective freedom.”
Full text here.