The student protests have been going on for eleven or twelve weeks now, and I’m long past sick of this crap. Students are behaving like petulant children, refusing to accept any offer of compromise and insisting that the government essentially do whatever they want.
News flash… it doesn’t work that way.
While the students may believe they are the modern embodiment of Rosa Parks, fighting for their rights against an oppressive system, they are in reality much closer to the Tea Party down in the ‘states… the party of “no”, refusing to negotiate, discuss or compromise.
Just this week a Tea Party candidate won a Senate seat away from a 36-year Senate veteran, largely because the Republican base felt that incumbent senator was working too closely with Democratic senators in order for the Senate to function. This is called compromise, and it is what’s required for any political system to work. When interviewed later, the Tea Party candidate (now the freshly minted senator, fresh off his victory) informed the “journalist” (I put journalist in quotes because the interview was on Fox News) that his idea of compromise was Democrats crossing over and adopting Republican values and supporting Republican ideas.
I never knew that being an idiot was required to hold public office in the USA… but I really shouldn’t be surprised, should I?
The above digression into American politics serves to highlight the hardheadedness of students here in Quebec. We benefit from the lowest tuition in Canada, offset by one of the highest (if not the highest) tax rate. The government has indicated they are willing to meet with the students, but the tuition hikes are going forward and are not up for debate. The students refuse to meet unless the fee increases are completely removed.
While the government has made some concessions, making the increase effective over 7 years instead of 5 and opening discussions on university governance, the students have moved in the other direction. Instead of a continued freeze, student groups are now insisting that university tuition be further reduced and eventually eliminated. Seriously?
While I don’t disagree that governance is a problem, and I’m sure that, being Quebec, there is significant wastage and most likely some corruption, I don’t see how free tuition is anywhere close to reasonable. The province already pays ~86% of the cost, per student, and these increases would still see the government picking up the tab for more than 80% of the cost. The students currently pay ~$2,000 per year, and the increase of $1,750 over 5 years would bring tuition to $3,750; significantly below the Canadian average and preserving Quebec’s spot in at the bottom of the provincial education cost comparison chart.
Having been through the university system not so long ago, I realize that additional funding is necessary. Tuition can go up, the government can tax more, or the government can re-allocate money from other programs to universities. There’s a 4th option too… private corporates can contribute funds to universities… but really, no one wants corporately-funded schools, do they?
Taxes are already way too high in Quebec, students refuse to pay more in tuition or accept corporate contributions… so I guess that leaves reallocation of funds. Tell me students… should we take money from healthcare, or from daycare, or from the pension plan? How about we take money from elementary and high school education?
If you don’t like the government’s plan… that’s fine. But come up with something better (and feasible), or just shut up and stop pissing off the province. You’re an embarrassment, really.
Students (or people acting on behalf of the students) staging riots and throwing smoke bombs in metro stations are acceptable forms of protest? If you remove the word “students” from the previous sentence, I really feel that you’re getting into the realm of domestic terrorism. We wouldn’t tolerate anarchists pulling this crap, nor would we appreciate foreign nationals coming here and disrupting our mass transit system. Yet, because they’re students, this is overlooked.
Enough is enough people. The government needs to crack down and issue an ultimatum: Back in class on Monday, or you lose your semester. If you lose your semester in this way, You’ll need to reapply for your position for the fall, as incoming students have to be accounted for, and there is only so much room in a class. Protesters should be arrested on the spot, as the majority of the protests now don’t have permits and are therefore illegal.
My patience with this crap is now totally gone. I hope every single protester gets introduced to the business end of a police baton, repeatedly and with great enthusiasm. Reason clearly doesn’t work for these people… enough with the carrot, its time for the stick.