Quebec and students: it's actually worse than you think -

Quebec and students: it’s actually worse than you think

Perversely, there’s a normalcy to all this Gong Show-iness


Graham Hughes/CP Images

Here’s an understatement for you: the negotiations between the various student associations and the Quebec government aren’t going well.

As we approach the three-month mark of the student strike/boycott/study-stoppage/what-have-you, relations between both sides could hardly be worse. An agreement in principle between the Charest government and the FEUQ, FECQ and CLASSE was roundly rejected by the students themselves, and we’ve already seen the fallout: the daily marches have for the most part resumed, much like the caustic rhetoric from both side as each accuses the other of bad faith. Yesterday, the entire Metro system was shut down after a coordinated smoke bomb attack.

Perversely, there’s a normalcy to all this Gong Show-iness, as though demonstrations, riots, street closures and metro shutdowns are part and parcel of  the coming very long, very hot summer in la bête noire province. Just like periodic language tiffs. Just like rampant corruption in the construction industry. Just like eye-bleedingly horrendous Éric Lapointe videos. (I warned you.) Ayoye.

And as bad as it is, the situation is actually worse than it appears. That’s because the government has, in the last round of negotiations, allowed the student associations a say over how the universities spend their money—a power the student associations themselves won’t likely relinquish in the future.

Though it was scuttled by the students, the deal hashed out last week will likely serve as a blueprint for  any settlement between the students and the government—which will come some time in the next year, Inshallah. It includes a clause by which an “interim council” is set up to examine university expenditures, and apply the savings (if any) to a corresponding reduction in student fees, up to $125.

Notably, the counsel was to be made up six university rectors/presidents, four student representatives, four union people, two people from the business sector, one CEGEP rep, one ministry rep, one president and, while we’re at it, René Angelil, Sol the Clown and the ghost of René Lévesque.

This needlessly complicated clause—a good Quebecer would dismiss it as a patente, or ‘thing’was put into last week’s negotiated settlement as a way for both sides to save face. In so doing, the government has created a fearsome precedent that threatens to undermine not only this round of student/government negotiations,  but future ones as well. First off, it’s difficult to see how, once they’ve sat at the table with the rectors, unions, business leaders and government, the students would ever relinquish the perk. Essentially, there is nothing to prevent the student associations from insisting on such a council every time government raises the spectre of tuition fee increases. And rightfully so, if you ask me: no one likes to give up power once it’s been in one’s hands. Of course, Students are now fully aware of the cudgel they can wield if things don’t go their way. It’s a matter of calling a strike and waiting for the tear gas to rain down.

Secondly, the premise of the council is itself antagonistic and counter-productive. The rectors and principals of Quebec’s universities unanimously claim that the system is underfunded; conversely, the student associations say university administrations are money-wasting spendthrifts. According to the FEUQ, universities could save upwards of $300 million by cutting wasteful spending. (There’s a lovely irony here, which Fagstein pointed out in a Tweet somewhere, how lefty groups like FEUQ and CLASSE trumpet cutting government waste as a solution.) Yet in most cases, what is crucial and what is waste depends entirely on what side of the table you happen to be seated.

For instance, is spending $80 million over five years on things like board banners at the Bell Centre a great way to attract new clientele? Or is it a “colossal waste of public money”, as CLASSE pithily put it? Is spending $8.6 million on satellite campuses, as Université Laval has done, a business-savy way of responding to a recognized demand amongst Quebec students? Or it is it a frivolous expense, right up there with McGill University president Heather Munroe-Blum’s $16,000 vehicle allowance?

I haven’t a clue, but clearly CLASSE does: the group wants to cut ban universities from advertising, institute a moratorium on new campus construction, and tax the banks. Take a wild guess what the “or else” part of the equation is.

Clearly, university priorities and administrations are subjects worthy of debate, but by creating this “interim counsel”, which will likely be anything but, the Quebec government has essentially ensured they will be hashed out under the threat of more protests. It has mandated that a gun be put to its head every time negotiations roll around. We’re in for many long, hot summers, I’d say.


Quebec and students: it’s actually worse than you think

  1. Quebec needs a proper fascist leader like Trudeau who would knock some teenagers heads and get them back into class.Where are the adults in Que? Teenagers in charge of society is tail wagging the dog, I have to say.

    Entitled middle class twenty somethings should be entirely ignored – if they want to strike after their parents have paid their university tuition, fees, books then let them because it is not costing anyone anything. I don’t understand where the adults are and why aren’t the reacting to this nonsense.

    Trudeau interview ~ Just Watch Me:

    Yes, well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don’t like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed, but it is more important to keep law and order in the society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don’t like the looks of …

    • What an utterly ignorant comment … You can’t pick & choose who you listen to and/or ignore in a democracy based on the fact that you agree or not with what they stand for. As a matter of fact, I really don’t agree with the Boomer’s view on things and how they run the country. Why not ignore them. I also hate how western conservatism is having a negative impact in shaping Canada`s future, why not ignore every single redneck social conservative from Alberta.

      200 000 students are marching in the streets. They cannot be ignored. If more “entitled middle class twenty something” were active in all realms of canadian politics, maybe Canada wouldn’t be circling the drain …

      • What does this have to do with Alberta? You mindless bigot

        • Exactly! Alberta university students aren’t marching in the street against their tuition fees. Of course there has been no “freeze” on the fees here. It has been MANY years since anyone paid $3,800.00 per year for tuition or for that matter, $7.00/day for daycare. Maybe us rednecks are just used to paying our own way and Quebecers too.

          • LOL you are hilarious.

            I know you don’t mean to be but you are, nonetheless.

            ‘Pay your own way’….Hah!

          • Median income in Alberta as of 2009 (the latest year I could find): 83560
            Median income in Quebec as of 2009: 64420

            That’s before tax.
            Alberta has the lowest tax regime across the country. 10% flat, 5% GST, and it doesn’t have many of the other taxes and fees imposed by provincial governments. It also has some of the lowest property taxes
            Quebec has the highest tax regime. 16-24% income, 14.95% sales, and requires its citizens to pay a number of other taxes as well such as for prescription drug coverage. Its property taxes, btw, near the highest.

            So maybe the reason Alberta students aren’t as upset about their tuition is that they still have the money to pay for it.

          • LOL they have less taxes because they’re living off the avails of oil.

          • Emily, students have too many “write offs” to pay taxes…. you and Thwim are not hilarious but your common sense is seriously lacking. How much money do you think a university student can make in the few months they aren’t attending school fulltime? Alberta is a very expensive province to live in. Rents in Calgary run $1,500.00/month.

          • Yes, Alberta is eating it’s seed corn. Everyone has told you that many times.

          • Thwim: NEWSFLASH! NO ALBERTA UNIVERSITY STUDENT HAS A MEDIAN INCOME OF $83,500! They are students. By definition they attend a post-secondary institution for at least 8 or more months a year. If they are medical students, they attend for 12 months. Because they live in a “booming province”, they also pay very high rents. Don’t you know this? I thought you lived in Alberta????? DUH!!!!

          • Most students receive a return on their taxes, tuition is 100% tax refundable. they also do not pay property taxes as most of them rent and do not own their homes. In my experience most of them don’t even spend the time to understand the taxation system, and do not even file their taxes. Quebec’s debt has many origins, one being having not raised school taxes for a while, paying out to welfare people who spend the money on beer walk around some of the Montreal burrows around lunchtime and you will see what I mean. What is happening in the province i love is simply a silly uneducated protest against “the man”. Grow up, read, learn, become a political person and try to change the system from within if you don’t like it. But don’t disrespect the people you live among that help pay your way through school. Remember it isn’t just the students who are taxed alot, the working folk get taxed even more, and most don’t ever get that back, so I ask you: do you think that high income bankers are riding in the metro to get to work?- not likely! Instead of comparing yourselves to Sweden, why not a less privileged place maybe that would put things in perspective.

      • Maybe if they learned something about real life… like paying bills and balancing a chequebook… they might not be such spoiled little brats.

        The problem here isn’t the mild increase to an already low tuition level; it’s the lack of perspective on the part of (a minority of) the students.

    • ‘Where are the adults in Que?’

      If the students are over 18 they ARE adults

      • Not really. Adults are supposed to stop childish gimme gimme behavior at other people’s expense and throwing tantrums over being denied more candy.

        • Students in Canada WANT an education….and somehow you see this as a bad thing?

          • If the students in Quebec wanted an education they’d go to class, and happily pay their tuition. What they’re demonstrating is that they don’t want to go to class, and they want more money.

          • What they are demonstrating is that they want what they were promised….education for everyone.

            Free…just like high school, so that everyone can go

            It’s from the Parent report in the Quiet Revolution

          • The Quiet Revolution was in the 60s, none of these rioting students was even born until 20 years later. Anybody who told any of these kids that they’re post-secondary education was going to be free was either lying to them, or earth shatteringly stupid. This blissfully ignorant claim that they’re simply entitled to their entitlements also infers that governments *shouldn’t* react to changing circumstances.

          • Did I ever say that it wasn’t included in the report?! Of course I’m not denying that. I’m saying that realities change, and governments have to react to the times.

            And I don’t know what the “it” is that’s coming. If you actually believe these little punks are going to get their way, you’ve clearly not been paying attention. Charest is gaining politically from it, and the public is agrees with him on the issue. There’s no way he’d break. And if you think these terrorists are going to convince the public by getting drunk and high and then smashing a bunch of stuff, you’re insane.

          • Well Rick, all the tough talk in the world…by you or various politicians…doesn’t change reality.

            To prosper in the knowledge economy we need university trained people….every single one that we can get….and we can’t let ourselves be held back as a nation, by students not having enough money to attend ….so free university for everyone is coming.

            Even to your neck of the woods.

          • Can’t… breathe… laughing… too… hard!

            Emily: when did you start doing standup?

          • Once the argument was lost, I figured it was time for the usual scoff and disappearance.

            I thought I’d be disappointed this time, but nooooo

          • Since I haven’t been doing the arguing, I can hardly have lost! Oh, and BTW – why are you accusing me of one of your favourite ploys? Isn’t that a bit of pot-and-kettle blathering?

          • And those rich bankers driving their S-Series are not punks because they wear “respectable” 2000-dollar suits. Hah! …Sorry, what’s that? …$4000 suit. Wow, what a loser I am.

          • You see, Rick, you didn`t know about that one, did you? Students were promised free education: this is called a social contract.

          • Yes, I did know about that. And a “social contract” is not something that was suggested 50 years ago would be a good idea. Are you saying that because our federal government subsidizes oil and gas companies now, that it has to continue to do so for eternity? Of course that’s absurd. It’s the governments *job* to manage the states finances.

          • So a contract can be broken. Fine! Anything goes, then. Fine! Now you say I was talking about oil and gas companies. Fine! Good night.

          • And as soon as the government can figure out how they can afford to do that without bankrupting the province, they can have it.

            We all want things we can’t afford. We have to learn to set our priorities. In a democracy, that means everyone gets a say; temper tantrums by the children (the law may call them adults, but they sure ain’t acting the part) should not be given in to.

          • Oh there’s always a way to finance things we want and need….politicians just have their own priorities.

          • …and politicians are elected by the people and 18-yr-olds get the same one vote per person as the taxpayers (the majority of whom are siding with the government).

            The Parent report dates from a couple of generations ago. In politics – heck, in today’s society generally – that’s ancient history. For one who scoffs at those who put their beliefs in ancient scrolls, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to be holding this up as if it were educational holy writ?

          • It’s Quebec’s social contract….and they remember just fine.

          • Nice try on ducking the issue…
            Whether they remember it or not is beside the point; what matters is whether it is to be treated as Holy Law or as something that can be adapted to changing circumstances.

          • Nice used car salesman approach: He happily paid, because he is his own Man! You`ve been watching too many Ronald Reagan movies.

          • I hope you realize that the majority of Quebec student do want an education and go to class.

        • Yeah, unlike the speculative banks and investing that got bailed out, and continue to make minimum, sorry, meximux, wage. Jesus, how can people be so blind?

    • So tonyA, you are an avowed fascist using tired clichés Hah! ,, you fat couch potato.

  2. The adults are out in the street standing up for the citizens of this province. I’m so sick of hearing that the students are entitled! It’s simply not true. Charest and the people in his age group benefited from an education heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. Now that they don’t want to provide the same benefits they received to the youth of this province. It’s disgusting. I come from a low income background in BC. I worked my way through university when the freeze was lifted there. I have a crushing student loan debt. Now as a Quebec resident I hope the tuition freeze stays in place. I don’t think because I somehow managed it everyone from now on should suffer. I would be happy to see my tax dollars go towards education. I want better for the next generation.

    • First, university tuition remains heavily subsidized in Canada. Look at what international students pay per year at McGill ($15000 on the low end), then subtract the tuition rates that Quebec students pay ($3800). Alternately compare Canadian tuition to US tuition. Even in state universities in the US, students pay an arm and a leg.
      Second, while the beneficiaries of tuition subsidies include many poor students, it also includes a large number from wealthy families that can easily afford to pay for university. Why not subsidize the tuition of lower and middle income families (heck subsidize them more), and not those of the rich?
      Third, university graduates perform better on the job market. Yes, it’s a lot tougher for graduates in this economy (as somebody on the job market myself, you have my full sympathy there). However, it would be even tougher for people without a degree. I’m sure I am about to get a million people talking about how Alberta needs pipefitters, but here is the unemployment rate by education level:
      <HS: 16.3%
      HS: 9.1%
      Some PS: 10.3%
      Post-secondary certificate (not uni): 6.9%
      University: 5.2%
      Reducing Quebec's tuition subsidy from about 75% of the real cost of university to about 67% isn't going to bring on the end of the world. A lot of people are suffering in this downturn – Quebec undergrads probably less than most. Spending scarce dollars to subsidize the education of a lot of families that can easily afford tuition (plus these are folks that will enjoy higher salaries as a result) is neither socially just, nor fiscally prudent.

      • Can you fix this? I’m interested in what it shows.

        • Some HS: 16.3%
          HS: 9.1%
          Some post-secondary: 10.3%
          Post-secondary (not uni): 6.9%
          University: 5.2%

          • Thank you HH..much appreciated!

  3. The riot act needs to be clearly read out. The consequences of engaging in violent protest should be severe. These students should find themselves banned from further education in Quebec should they be found guilty of any violent criminal offence related to these tuition protests. They should be told they risk their very future by attempting political change outside of the ballot box. Don’t like what the Government is doing? Then run for office yourself.

    So I ask them, “Do you really want a solution or are you attempting Revolution?”

    • Attempting a “revoluition” of sorts, if you haven’t noticed. Or more specifically a paradigm shift before it gets to late and we are all engulfed in savage capitalism, courtesy of USA.

      • So this is really about turning Quebec into a Communist state? You’re doing a helluva job arguing your position.

        • Oh, yes, the cheap “communist” repartee. Communist here, communist there. I won`t bother responding to your tires, cheap cliché more than this.

          • Of course you won’t. Because you’d have to explain and defend your position, which would only serve to make my point.

          • Do I really have to respond such an easy, cheap reaction such as raising the spectre of communism, Mr. McCarthy, sorry, Omen? Do you really think there`s any merit in that? Hah, that`s the leitmotiv that the Americans used each time hundreds of thousands of poor South Ameticans and Asians were slaughtered by U.S.-backed militias. You don`t give a shit–fair enough–! Why should you, it’s not your problem. But you seem to be really bothered by this student thing… What gives? You don’t seem to know anything other than what`s on Macdonald`s menu (Heard about the new BLT?)

          • Go back to drinking, you’re not making any sense.

    • The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

      That said, I completely agree with your sentiment around violent protest. Block traffic, block access to gov’t or university buildings, ongoing chants and noise, I’m all fine with (though I’ll admit I wouldn’t like it on my block), but violence cannot be allowed.

  4. I don’t know why the Quebec government is “negotiating”.

    There isn’t anything to negotiate. Tuition is what it is, and students can take it or leave it.

    This isn’t complicated. There’s a mild tuition hike that has 68% support in the general populace.

    Anyone who runs around smashing things can be arrested. If it’s a large group, invoke the Riot Act and threaten them all with life imprisonment, before making a show of being merciful.

    • Typical right-wing ignorant ranting. Take it or leave it…right. Well, we don’t want it and propose to change things.

      • There’ll be an election by or before December 2013.

        It’s not a large increase, and it’s not a terribly large debt-load.

        I side with the majority of citizens who back the tuition hike, the elected government, and the majority of students who want to attend class. Not some self-appointed lawless revolutionary minority.

        • The same things were said about those who opposed slavery and supported women’s suffrage.

          • A little bit of a difference here, though, Thwim. They have access to higher education if they want to pay for it and can meet the entrance requirements, just like every other person in Canada. In fact, given the low tuition even after the increase, they have less of a financial barrier than just about anyone in Canada.

            Your comparison is a tad over the top, I’m afraid!

      • You don’t want what? University education? Then don’t go. If what you don’t want is to *pay* for it, then you’ll have to do a better job of convincing *other people* to pay for it. If I were a taxpayer in Quebec, after weeks of having a bunch of shockingly ignorant students with an exceptional sense of entitlement making my life miserable, I probably wouldn’t care about what such people want.

        And how do you propose to change things, aside from making other people pay for your tuition? Cause that’s not really change, that’s just self-serving greed. It’s also quite likely to make Universities in Quebec *worse*, not better.

        It’s like watching a spoiled brat at the grocery store who screams bloody murder cause Mom won’t buy him a chocolate bar. When she finally caves in and agrees, he starts screaming bloody murder cause he wants two chocolate bars. As an innocent bystander, you just laugh, shake your head, and walk away happy you don’t have to buy any chocolate bars – or deal with that spoiled brat.

        • Well, just continue with your sad drinking habit, and leave Quebec sort its own matters.

          • Another brilliant retort. Is this the best your prized “education” can produce? Please note that the crux of my analogy was that I’m glad it’s not my problem, and I’m more than happy to let Quebec sort out it’s own matters.

          • Well, since Quebec sucks the teat of taxpayers from across Canada (speaking of “drinking problems”), it kind of is a national problem.

            When Quebec figures out how to pay its own way, I’ll happily let it spoil its children however it wants.

            In the meantime, take your hand out of my pocket, if you please.

  5. six university rectors/presidents, four student representatives, four union people, two people from the business sector, one CEGEP rep, one ministry rep, one president

    Wait a second. FOUR student reps and not a single professor? (And no, University Presidents/Rectors do not count as “professors”).

    • Wouldn’t the “four union people” include reps from the various instructors, professors etc.?

      • Possibly.

        Maybe it’s a less common practice in Quebec, but plenty of faculty in Ontario are not unionized. Profs and librarians at U of T (the country’s largest university of course), for example, are not unionized.

        • From CTV:

          The interim council is composed of the following people: … -4 union representatives designated by the CSN, FTQ and FQPPU …

          The FQPPU represents university faculty (and BC university faculty aren’t unionized either).

          • Thanks.

            Still, if only one of the three unions appointing the 4 union positions actually represents faculty, it suggests that students will outnumber teachers at least 2:1.

            I can’t even IMAGINE setting up a system for high schools to determine how secondary educational funding is to be spent that was comprised mostly of principals, and with more students than teachers!!!

          • Yes, seems crazy to me too.

  6. It’s my understanding that by now university was supposed to be free….a promise from the Quiet Revolution. Instead it’s going back up in price. Naturally the students are protesting.

    And a lot of the money is going to administrators, not actual education.

    Arab Springs are considered advances, and our govts cheer them on, Quebec or Maple Springs …..not so much..

    • It is an abomination to compare Quebec’s spoiled students (the most pampered in Canada, obstructing students who want to attend classes and the public at large, committing violence to protest paying the price of a cup of coffee per day) to people who are dying for basic freedoms denied to them by totalitarian Arab/Muslim states. It should be called Quebec shame, not Quebec Spring.

      • There are people dying in wars and famines and from disease everywhere, and always have been.

        That has nothing to do with this topic.

        But perhaps ‘education’ might solve those other problems, hmmm?

        • You made the comparison, then dismiss it as being irrelevant. I however think it to be quite on point. Massive protests in both scenarios, taking on a govenment unpopular among protesters, except in one situation, protesters want freedom and basic human dignity, and in the other they want a free ride.
          Minaka2 is right, anyone who would compare the two in a favorable light aught to be ashamed.

          • Well since this isn’t Egypt, people want different things from their govts hmmm?

            Don’t get carried away with the Con mantras…they don’t work.

          • @OriginalEmily1:disqus Wait, this isn’t Egypt?!? You must have gone to university. What they obviously didnt teach there was personal responsibility. The government is not there to cater to your every whim. I understand that a university education is important in todays economy, but so is charachter, responsibility, and hard work. Maybe next the students can riot until the government finds a way to provide those free of charge as well.

          • Amazing….you have no idea what taxes are for, even though you benefit from them every day of your life. From sidewalks and street lights to hospitals and schools and pensions….nobody has a ‘free ride’, and we all enjoy the benefits.

            Now, if you’re talking value-for-money I’d suggest education over fighterplanes any day.

          • I understand a few things about taxes. I, for instance, understand that they aren’t there to cover my personal expenses.
            The Universal Declaration of Human Rights , and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, guarantee me “the economic social and cultual right to adequate housing and shelter.” The difference between myself, and these students, and apparently you as well, is that I dont expect the government to pay my mortgage.
            I also have the right to adequate food, but again, I’m not sending my grocery bill to my local MLA.
            Students have it really good in this country compared to most others, and Quebec better than the rest of the provinces. This sense of entitlement they are developing is not going to serve them in the real world… though I guess thats not a problem as long as they dont leave Quebec.

          • So because taxes don’t cover every single thing in your life, you don’t see why they should cover anything?

            And saying things are worse elsewhere isn’t an answer to anything….but I’ll bet it’s what your mom told you when you didn’t want to eat your veggies.

            Most of northern Europe has free university Chris….there is no reason we can’t as well. Especially when it would be such an enormous benefit to the country.

          • Not at all Emily, my point was that university is not the same as sidewalks, or roads or healthcare, or police. These things are matters of public safety and infrastructure. We use these things because there are no other options. University on the other hand is a matter of choice.
            On a secondary note, please explain to me how it is that free university is of any marked benefit, much less an “enormous” one, to the rest of the country. University attendance is higher than ever before, so it isn’t that more people will get an education. Tuition fees go toward paying professors, and research as well as any administrative costs, so it isn’t that they will get a better education. I’m really at a loss

          • We had all the same points, as you raise in the debate, made over providing high school. Elementary school was good enough for grandad etc

            And while a few got high school…it wasn’t meant for the riff-raff. You didn’t need algebra to milk the cows.

            But at some point it became clear that readin’, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic’ just wasn’t sufficient education for the industrial age so secondary school became universal and free.

            That made an enormous difference to the country.

            We have arrived at the same point again….high school isn’t sufficient education for the knowledge economy….not by a long shot. So we have to raise our game, and find a way for everyone who wants to attend university to do so. We can’t compete without it.

            Some won’t of course….not everybody finishes high school….or for that matter, primary school, even now.

            But for those who want to….the education is available….as it should be for university too. Tertiary education….universal and free.

          • Nice,readin’, “‘riting and ‘rithmatic’ ” huh? It’s cool that you have an internet connection all the way up there in your ivory tower. You keep talking about the knowledge economy, and how everyone should attend university, but you seem to ignore the fact that not everyone belongs in university. Canada is, and for the forseeable future will continue to be a commodity based economy. Oil, natural gas and lumber now, water in the not too distant future. People are required in these sectors, to work, pay taxes, and subsidise spoiled upper middle class children who don’t want to pay thier own way. Now if you want to talk about grants for low income student, fine. I’m all for that, but making it universally free is not something I’m interested in.

          • Well Chris, the law says you only have to attend school until 18….it doesn’t say university is mandatory….and if people don’t want to go, no one is going to make them.

            Alberta is a commodity based economy….Canada is not. Alberta is pre-industrial….Canada is not. If you choose to remain hewers of wood, and drawers of water in Alberta, that’s up to you…..but the world is moving on, and we have to move with it.

          • When you say Alberta, you also meant, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador as well right?
            Also, to repeat a tired but true refrain, where exactly do you think the money to support your “knowledge based economy” comes from? If you were as smart as you thought you were, you would realise that none of these things you hold in such high regard exist without all of the “pre-industrial” workers. Next time you want to climb up on your high horse, take a minute to think about the saddle maker.

          • 75% of Canadians are employed in the service industry. You should learn something about the economy before you try to convince people we’re all lumberjacks.

            The money comes from everyone….just like it would do for fighterplanes.

          • There you go again, missing the point and talking down to people and changing the subject.
            I’ll try and make things simpler for you. I used to work in Ft. Nelson BC. In Ft. Nelson, there are several hotels, restaurants, bars, and stores. Most of the towns residents work in the service sector, just like you said, however, the next spet in the logic chain is where you missed out. There would be no reason for the hotels, bars, restaurants, and stores, if it werent for the fact that there are huge natural gas deposits all over northern BC. No Gas, no Jobs, no town really. The same is true for small towns all over the country. I know it’s hard for a city girl to understand.
            Also, I think that’s yopur second reference to fighter planes now… did you comment on the wrong article… this ones about tuition

          • I’m not doing anything of the sort….you must have an inferiority complex.

            The service industry is not working in hotels and restaurants…’s things like doctors, teachers, engineers….they provide a service, not a product.

            And taxes are better spent on education, than on fighterplanes.

          • …and we can’t afford any of them either without people who produce actual goods. That’s his point.

            There’s a case to be made for grants to those who can’t afford an education. There’s an argument to be made to target grants to cover post-secondary education for areas where there is a high demand for those skills (and “university” is not always the correct institution for that training). But do we really need to be fully funding hordes of history majors? I think not.

            A blanket “free post-secondary” policy is a nice Utopian vision, but one that we can’t afford in the real world.

          • Thanks Kieth, my point exactly. Without commodities, there is no money to pay the salaries of doctors, teachers, or engineers. You can shuffle around money between knowledge providers all you like, but it’s all just a shell game without something solid behind it.
            @OriginalEmily1:disqus , as an aside, may I ask what it is that you do?

          • LOL sorry guys, but Canada doesn’t depend on commodities, or manufactured goods. You’re in the wrong era, and have been left behind.

            A quick glance around the world would show you that, but apparently you can’t be bothered to look.

            And Chris…I’m an economic development analyst….it’s my field, boyo.

          • I understand what you’re saying, and I know the stats, my point I guess is this. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, none of what you produce, the knowledge that you have, the ideas you are responsible for, matter a whole hell of a lot if you dont have food to eat, a place to live, and roads to drive on.
            Retail in this country is responsible for 12% of GDP, but what good is retail if there is nothing to sell. I can build a chair from a tree without the services of my local retailer, but you can’t sell a chair if noone cuts down the tree, mills the lumber, builds the chair, and delivers it to the store.
            I would also like to point out that the shift to a service based economy, is just a shift in how we value jobs performed. There have always been furniture stores, the difference is now we pay too much for the goods sold there, while the factory workers make a minimal wage. Its a big part of why we have a widening gap between the rich and the poor.

          • By the way, I wasn’t trying to be dismissive of your career, just trying to prove a point.

          • Okay….but you are forgetting the role technology plays

            First we were hunter-gatherers, then we had the Agricultural Age, and then the Industrial Age, and now the Service Economy….which is a Tertiary economy….there are at least 2 more economic stages past this one…the Quaternary and the Quinary that we know of….but we have bits of them already. We are moving up the ladder rapidly.

            There are still some hunter-gatherers in the world, and we still have farmers…although they’ve gone from being 98% of our population to only 2%, while producing far more food than at any time in history.

            Manufacturing is dying out in the west….not only has China become the world’s factory….but robots are producing more of our goods. They can work 24/7/365…without even a coffee break. Beyond that we now have ‘3D printing’….an unimaginatve name for what is essentially a ‘replicator’….like on Star Trek. The printers can produce shoes, chairs, every kind of tool….kidneys and cars. Every home will have one.

            We don’t need factories, or factory workers any more….for any product….and we won’t need retailers at all.

            The times have changed….rapidly….and we either change with them, or we’ll be left behind.

            And it all requires education…knowledge.

          • Ok, I’ll agree with most of what you said, with a few minor exeption. 24/7/365 is not realistic for running any machinery. A perfect example is underway right now. Here in Central Alberta it’s turn around season, meaning the refineries, and plastics plants are shut down for maintenance. This takes over 400 people working around the clock for over 2 months just for a small plant. Larger plants like the ones in Ft. Mac require the population of a medium sized city. Most of these people are specialized labourers with very little formal education.
            I also think that you are overlooking the need for raw materials. Be it oil and gas, or minerals, the extraction process is by and large unchanged for the last 100 years. These jobs have been made safer to be sure, but in most cases no less labour intensive. Many of these jobs require critical thinking and problem solving, and observation skills that computers are not able to match. If you want solve a calculus problem quickly, give me a computer, but if you want to know why there is blue smoke coming out of your tail pipe, give me a real person.

          • Now, if you’re talking value-for-money I’d suggest education over fighterplanes any day.”

            Ooh… at last! A comment that has merit!

          • That’s where we started out from, you’re just catching up.

          • You obviously are reading a different thread than I am. Until this point, you’ve just been aimlessly rambling about free education with no concrete proposal as to where this money might magically appear from. This is the only concrete example of what might be cut to provide the funding.

          • LOL funding is easy to come by, and nowt to do with magic.

  7. Think it was the pretty-boy from CLASSE that said Sweden has free university. If he admires and wants to be like Sweden so much, perhaps he also will like the 1 to 3 years of mandatory military service he would do when turning 18.
    From reading comments on several sites covering this – posters saying they are in Montreal sound very fed-up.

    • Sweden doesn’t have compulsory military service. Norway does, but it doesn’t apply to international students who also get free university.

      The ‘pretty-boy’ remark is a gratuitous swipe.

      • Norway doesn’t even have compulsory military service. well it does… but it is very easy to get out of it. ;)

    • Sure. Though I don’t see the connection to tuition. Though I imagine that would go hand in hand with adopting Sweden’s neutrality, and withdrawing from Nato.

      • This may not be the same point Le_O was making, but the idea that we can pick and choose the best institutions of other countries willy nilly is not realistic. Swedes are more nationalistic than Canadians, and thus far more willing to make sacrifices in order to produce national public goods. Up till 2010 that included conscription, and of course very high tax rates.

        Moreover, the institutional context of free post-secondary education is one in which the demand for degrees is lower. Swedes can do fairly well without being professionals. Most Swedes, for instance, leave home around 18 (this has advantages, sure, but most also report high levels of disconnectedness from their family).
        Canada, on the other hand, arguably has the highest rate of university attendance in the world, and degrees are necessary for many well-paying jobs (yeah yeah, pipefitters in Alberta notwithstanding*). Free tuition plus the kind of access to university we demand is going to be pretty burdensome – particularly given our lower proclivity to pay high taxes.
        Some Canadians wish we were more like Sweden, and that’s fine. But I think it is important to think about the magnitude of cultural and institutional changes that would be necessary for that kind of transformation to work.

        *And even then it is not as if anybody can break into the trades. There’s unions and apprenticeship programs that help keep the supply of certain tradesmen low, relative to demand.

  8. “six university rectors/presidents, four student representatives, four union people, two people from the business sector, one CEGEP rep, one ministry rep, one president”

    This is the new Queerbec version of the 12 Days of Christmas, but without any happy ending.

  9. Your article started on a promissing note, but soon fizzled out into a series of dismissive comments against real democracry regarding university education (e.g. spending and the idea of banks contributing a minuscule portion of their profits–which they make on every productive citizen–for the sake of future education).

  10. Typical Maclean article: starts off promissing then soon shows its utter lack of substance. Amazing!

  11. What does Eric Lapointe have to do with your story, Mr Patriquin. Your article is pathetically one-sided. The garbage you write, Mr Patriquin, is not even bad enough for the likes of Newt Gingrich and Co. So Lapointe is a talentless, vulgar bottom feeder; big deal! So is that commentator at Hockey Night in Canada who dresses like a clown and talks nonsense.. I forget his name.

  12. I read that student union fees in some cases exceed $800 per year – about 40% of tuition. Poor students and rich students pay the same amount. Should such fees continue to be mandatory and collected by the universities to fund their own destruction?

  13. Arrests and deport the leaders of these ‘student organizations’ before this mess degenerates into the October Crisis

  14. “Pretty-boy “, you say? You like?

  15. Students need permanent status at the table because, mystifyingly, the other adults have shown themselves to be irresponsible with public money. Plus the public is exhausted by daily stories of waste and corruption in Montreal. The still-unfinished ‘Ilot Voyageur’ (bus station/student residence/classroom combo) fiasco of $500 million for Université de Québec à Montréal’s building venture is a case in point. It was not even tendered! And then there’s the Dansereau Pavillion project of the same university (another $200 million). The Auditor-General of Quebec excoriated Charest’s government for its negligence on these. Nothing was done.

    Right now – in the middle of the strike – there are government/university plans to use old railway lands in Outremont (mid-town Montreal) to build more buildings for the Université de Montréal. That’s even though the universities claim not to be able to afford to pay part-time professors who shoulder the majority of the teaching load. Core mandate, anyone?! Something is indeed wrong with this picture! I am 100% behind the students – as every taxpayer in Quebec should be. Readers in English-Canada: this strike is waaay bigger than the coverage you’re getting.

    • I agree with your point that Universities have completely stopped caring about actual education anymore. I disagree with the idea that that has anything to do with this strike. If that were the case, this strike would be targeting the Universities and the people who run them. But they’re targeting the government and the general public. They just want more of the public’s money to be badly administered.

  16. Seems like the students organizing this fiasco have never attended any classes in economics. An uprising is warranted when there is just cause, but this is just misguided lunacy.
    Unfortunately, many students were against this interruption, and will lose a year of education, or more.
    So many opportunities lost for so many, and so little of real value has been gained,
    One wonders if a wise government would solve this by lowering the tuition, and in tandem lowering the admission to a higher entrance criteria.

  17. hjhjhkjhkjh

  18. Glad to see someone in Canada has enough balls to stand up to government and are not just eating whats being served. If we didn’t have the people of Quebec in this country protesting there would be little to nothing with regards to a public voice. If you have a problem with protests you shouldn’t be living in a democratic country. And if you haven’t been a part of a protest ever your a sheep.

    • Protests don’t require violence.

  19. If the Jean Charest government in Quebec capitulates, there will be campus riots all over Canada, including in my beloved Windsor, Ontario. This is just a beautiful way to pave the road for a takeover by the Radical Right in Canada. It may not happen now, or even a decade from now, but it will happen.

  20. I am a student in Montreal. I have not been involved in protests for several reasons, but I support the strikers’ belief in accessible education. As a new resident, I have been following the way this strike has been reported across the country and the responses of Canadians in other provinces. The experience has opened my eyes with regards to public ignorance – we are all at the mercy of the media, and the sensationalist angles they find in reporting stories.
    As someone who actually LIVES in Montreal, let me tell you what I see. I see highly organized protests lead by students who denounce violence. I see a lot of FORMER students saddled with debt who value their degrees (even though they haven’t brought economic prosperity) and education in general, and are willing to risk their reputations to improve the lives of future students. I see current students who likely won’t even be affected by the tuition increase sacrificing an entire year. I see people of all ages (middle-aged, elderly, indeed entire families) marching because they feel Quebec’s values are under attack. A very small minority of students have resorted to destructive acts (although more than once I’ve seen other strikers attempt to stop them).
    You don’t have to agree with the strikers; you certainly don’t have to share their vision. But calling them all “spoiled brats” is ignorant. There are no income restrictions regarding who can and cannot protest. Middle class people are allowed to stand up for what they believe in too (although, of course, not all of the protesters come from middle class backgrounds).