Quebec student leaders tour Ontario

Students should be outraged about this misuse of funds


Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (Socialist Canada, Socialist Quebec/Flickr)

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.


Quebec student leaders tour Ontario

  1. This is another example of sloppy journalism from Macleans — who play fast and loose with the truth, consistently to support reactionary politics. (1) Gabriel is not on the tour beyond Ottawa, read their website. (2) The last all-campus vote on the government offer in May rejected it with a 2/3rds majority, showing support for the mobilization. (3) Almost no scientific polling of opinion has been done (instead, website click polls by media) but that shows the entire generation of youth is for the students. (4) The role as an advocacy and representation group of students, defending their right to accessible education is clearly in the open mandate of CFS. It is CASA that takes the position you are describing. If CASA did this tour, yes you could say they were going against their policy — tuition increases! With is this publication`s policy also. (5) Education is a socially-positive moral value and a right not a privilege. As much as you deny this, that sentiment is held broadly by the Canadian people and in UN commitments the Cnd gov. has signed. Truth may not be on your side, so you have to re-write it.

    • That’s a 2/3 vote of the striking student unions Johan. Many aren’t.

  2. I’m really happy the CFS is doing this tour, tuition and debt in Ontario is outrageous. Macleans should be ashamed for publishing this kind of anti-student drivel.

  3. You’re attempting to anger students against the CFS in their efforts alleviate student debt. How does this make sense?

  4. Another example of sloppy right-wing journalism that has become a staple of Macleans. Macleans once again demonstrates that it is little more than a grocery store tabloid.

  5. Nice job with the title

    Readers should outrage that they’re reading bad grammar.

    I don’t blame Robyn, her brain must hurt when she thinks.

  6. Hello Robyn,

    Ignoring the broadstrokes article, I wanted to touch on one thing: the “cost” of this event.

    I organized the tour stop at Windsor, with many amazing volunteers and groups too many in number to count.

    I personally paid for the decorations which was just cloth and things like small banners but still.

    I paid for pizza during lunch meetings between the UWSA(student union) and the folks from Quebec.

    I booked everything, it was free, I also found rooms for the speakers, who requested that we just find free spots among students willing to host guests rather than book hotels for them.

    All in all the cost on members of CFS for this trip other than myself was probably MAYBE 20 dollars for gas IF the speakers themselves didn’t pay for gas.

    We had a lot of support from different groups but none of them paid anything to this tour.

    If you have any more questions send me an email! always interested to hear from students on issues.

  7. @Ryan — You are mistaken: http://1625canepassepas.ca/offr/

    115 Student Unions representing 342 000 students voted against the Charest deal; a mere 5000 voted for. Quebec has about a 400,000 student pop. 2/3 of all students were not on strike, as the right-wing media never fails to say (without explaining the challenge of an unlimited strike). This is evidence that the movement was broadly and strongly supported — as was the massive mobilizations of between 150,000 and 300,000 in Montreal alone. With respect, do you homework.

  8. I often find Ms. Urback’s rants to be very catty and severely lacking in truth – definitely my least favourite writer on Maclean’s Campus.

    Each university’s student union is democratically elected annually and represents the interests of those whom they serve. The vast majority of Ontario students would definitely support ways to improve the cost of education and accessibility. There might be differences in the method to help alleviate the strain Ontario students endure but you’ll be hard-pressed to find any students who want tuition fees to continue skyrocketing. Ontario students are paying exorbitant amounts – the highest in all of Canada – and it keeps going up! There is certainly no alienation or ridiculous division among students that you speak of.

    I 100% support my student fees going towards the organization of events whose purpose it is to strategize ways to mobilize the student population and bring upon much needed change.

    So tell me, Ms. Urback, are you against democratic gatherings? Are you for censorship and repression of certain ideas from flourishing? It seems to me that you are part of a vocal minority who is just upset that the majority are organizing and you’re not getting YOUR way.

    By the way, that unflattering photograph of Mr. Nadeau-Dubois you chose to accompany your article is so immature but oh-so-typical of you.

    I’m outraged by this article.

    • Democracy,
      You ask:

      “So tell me, Ms. Urback, are you against democratic gatherings? Are you for censorship and repression of certain ideas from flourishing?”

      I can’t really answer that question for Ms. Urback, but I will say that many people, myself included, were deeply angered by the double-standards on display in Quebec earlier in the year. GND et al spouted about the need for free speech, but were quite happy to stand aside and let their supporters prevent people from attending class (and with a frightening level of intimidation, too). GND et al were also angry at Bill 78 and flouted it, but then saw no problem in using the same legal system to try and have it overturned.

      With Bureau-Blouin going for the PQ, now the true issues behind the protest are out. Ironically while Quebec taxpayers have little sympathy for the tuition fee protest (and understandably, because of the crippling levels of tax in this province), everyone can get behind a call for better government. But I don’t think the PQ will be any better than the current crop. If the student leaders wanted to really tap into what is going on in this province in the dinner table discussions of engineers, academics, bar tenders, street-sweepers, lawyers, etc., then they would make a bilingual, non-partisan appeal to end (alleged) government corruption and clean this province up.

      Sadly, as Bureau-Blouin has demonstrated, and as I expect GND to do as well, the student leaders will continue to use this protest to further their own ambitions – thus imitating the elder statesmen which put us in this mess to begin with. And so it goes on.

  9. “You’re attempting to anger students against the CFS in their efforts alleviate student debt.”

    Because the CFS has done such a bang-up job in doing so? As far as I’m concerned, they’re part of the problem – an undemocratic organization (try to leave the CFS) siphoning student fees and providing little in return beyond empty slogans and placards.

    • Two questions.
      1-Weren’t Quebec student union’s trying to break away from the CFS, why are Quebec student union leaders now working with the CFS. The Quebec students have done more in the past few months than the CFS in the past 30 years.

      2-How long are Canadian students going to allow a couple of older long time staffers at the CFS piss away student union dues for their own agenda.

  10. Two questions.
    1-Weren’t the various Quebec student union’s trying to distance themselves from the CFS a while back, why are they now working together.
    2-How much longer are Canadian students going to allow Link and Watson to continue using student union fee’s to finance their personal agenda.

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