NUS has expressed solidarity with the Quebec Student Movement after their decisions to strike over the 80% hike in tuition fees resulted in the draconian anti-strike laws and the outbreak of violent police tactics to try and subdue the strike. Student coalition CLASSE have created the most sustained civil disobedience Canada has ever seen. The strike is democratically legitimate, voted for weekly by student assemblies and involving all students’ unions in Quebec, the strike has also gained significant support from academics and teachers’ unions.
The reaction of the Quebec government to the strike was to issue Bill 78 which stated that gatherings of 50 or more people have to submit their plans to police 8 hours ahead to time and agree to any changes the police make. If demonstrators do not comply there are fines of upto $5000 for an individual and upto $125,000 for a union. Any academic staff in support of a student protest also face fines.
The Quebec Student Movement has been met with unprecedented opposition every time an action was organised . A startling 472 criminal accusations have been made so far and in one week in April over 400 arrests were made in three days, with protestors also being peppered sprayed, tear gassed, beaten and kettled. Frances Grenier, a student at Cégep de Saint-Jérôme almost lost an eye when a police officer threw a stun grenade at him in the Montreal protests; similarly Alexandre Allard is fighting for his life after he was shot in the head with a rubber bullet at the Victoriaville protests. Four protesters have even been arrested under anti-terror laws.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois a spokesperson for the Quebec Student Movement will appear in the Canadian Superior Court under contempt of court charges for saying, on May 13th of this year, "I find it legitimate" that students form picket lines to defend their strike. The strike is still ongoing and in an act of desperation the police have begun to profile and detain any person wearing the red square a sign of affiliation with CLASSE.
Take action here by urging the Quebec agent-general in London to support students and stand up for democracy.