Spoiled brats or social activists? The students protesting tuition hikes in
Quebec have been called both.
To many watching from outside the province the intensity of the student
strike is difficult to comprehend. Skyrocketing tuition rates have been a fact
of life for most Canadian students, with Nova Scotia leading the pack, while
their Quebec counterparts have enjoyed the lowest rates in the country.
Inside Quebec, they've been labelled by some as lawless thugs, clashing
with police amid accusations they have used intimidation tactics to keep other
students from returning to class.
But they have their supporters as well. Trade unions, university
professors, artists and celebrities have all endorsed the movement. Just last
weekend, the Montreal-based band Arcade Fire showed their support by wearing the
students red patch while performing with Mick Jagger on Saturday Night
You can add the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council to that
list. The council has already passed a resolution of support. It has brought in
those red squares to distribute to its members. Now, if president Kyle Buott
gets his way, the 25,000 union members of the council will soon be sending
financial support as well.
Buott says a resolution to send money to the students in Quebec will be on
the agenda of their next meeting, and he will be voting to write them a
Buott believes the students are in the right.
"They are standing up for
accessible post-secondary education for everyone", says Boutt.
"Education is a right", says Buott, "they should be giving them
opportunities to get an education, not taking them away".
Hard to disagree with that sentiment, but you have to wonder what the rank
and file will say if their leaders decide to send some of their hard earned
money to support the striking students in Quebec, while they struggle to come up
with the tuition, at twice the cost, for their sons and daughters here at home.