Quebec student leaders and their Ontario band of brothers are hoping to light a fire under students in Canada’s most populous province.
And indeed, Ontarian students have a good reason to be outraged. But it’s not that they’re being asked to shoulder more of the cost of their educations, as the student leaders would have them believe.
Instead, they should be outraged that their money is funding a working vacation for people like Quebec protest leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
Nadeau-Dubois is currently touring Ontario with his activist counterparts as part of the Quebec-Ontario Student Solidarity Tour. (Think Charlie Sheen’s Violent Torpedo of Truth tour, but less funny.) They’ve been recruited to impart their “strike” wisdom to Ontario’s own student leaders. “It’s really an opportunity to share what we have learned in the last months,” Nadeau-Dubois told National Post, “to share our knowledge of mobilization, of social organization.”
That would be dandy, of course, if Quebec student leaders had more success to boast about for their efforts over the last few months. In truth, they’ve done a formidable job of dividing the student population and alienating public opinion for their cause. Never mind racking up security costs and strangling Montreal’s typically-bustling tourist season during the annual Grand Prix. Oops.
But it’s not only that obvious irony that should have regular Ontario students shaking their heads. It’s that their student union is wasting student fees in the name of, uh, reducing fees.
Students at any Ontario university affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Students must pay annual students union dues each semester. Ostensibly, these fees go toward student services, such as legal assistance, tax clinics, and special events, and, okay, perhaps the odd government lobbying effort (ideally those more pragmatic that an annual sit-in, but I digress).
But for a student federation to use student money to usher in their protesting pals from out of town is ludicrous, especially when the “knowledge of mobilization” they have to impart is irresolute at best. Sure, they’ve been able to seduce hordes of angry students to the streets. But what, really, do they have to show for it?
If the CFS was truly concerned about the financial constraints on Ontario students, it wouldn’t be using their money to import their friends for workshops on how to protest in their underwear while blocking traffic and banging drums.
Never mind tuition. This misuse of fees is a better reason for Ontario students to be outraged.