Let’s give the protesters what they want - Macleans.ca
 

Let’s give the protesters what they want

Paul Wells: After thinking about it for three months, close to half the population is with the protesters


 

Graham Hughes/CP Images


Three months in, it’s getting harder to dismiss the Montreal tuition protesters as a tiny bunch of malcontents. It’s true that they are calling for the perpetuation of Canada’s best bargain in higher education. It’s true that the active, on-the-street protesters represent a minority of the student population and a smaller minority of the larger student-age population.

But the protesters are not alone against the rest of Quebec. They have had substantial popular support at every stage of this dispute. And as the conflict settles in and becomes more bitter, support for the protesters has grown. A Léger poll for QMI last week showed that 43 per cent of respondents were “more favourable to the student position,” which the poll defined as a continued freeze on tuitions. That’s a nine-point increase in support in 11 days, thanks largely to a tough law the Charest government passed to increase restrictions and penalties for protesting. To sum up, after thinking about it for three months, close to half the population is with the protesters. So are many editorialists and the members of Arcade Fire.

My hunch is that if Charest could back down, he would. He spent most of his career as premier demonstrating that he doesn’t actually care whether Quebec’s universities are underfunded. He maintained a tuition freeze for his first four years in office, then increased tuitions at $50 a semester until this year. During that time, Quebec’s university rectors say, the annual funding shortfall in Quebec’s universities, relative to those in the rest of the country, increased from $375 million to more than $620 million.

So having finally tried a more rapid increase in the cost of higher education, and found it to be unpleasant, I’m sure Charest would be delighted to go back to his previous lethargy on the file. But he can’t. A lot of Quebecers are blocking his escape route: having suffered through 100 days of protests, they don’t want to be told their effort was wasted.

This is what a stalemate looks like. The protesters won’t back down on their dreams of collectivist higher education. The government can’t back down on its tuition increase. What’s to be done?

Solomon would say it’s time to cut the baby in two.

You can’t have a university system in which education is free for everyone, at the same time you have a system where complex modern research and teaching are funded at healthy levels through various means, including high tuition rates paid by those students who can afford to pay. So stop having one system.

I’m proposing that Charest stop worrying about whether most of the province’s universities get adequate funding. Since quality of education, measured according to bourgeois notions like class size and research infrastructure, does not matter to much of the province’s population and to its better rock musicians, Charest should write most of Quebec’s universities off as lost. The provincial rectors’ association lists 18 member institutions. Convert, say, 15 of them to communal teach-in facilities where tuition would be frozen, substantially reduced or, what the heck, eliminated. Students could make nightly bonfires, periodically instruct faculty on the proper interpretation of Heidegger, and otherwise live the dream.

At a much smaller number of institutions —here I’m thinking of McGill and the Université de Montréal—tuition fees would float as high as the administration wanted them to go. A portion of increased revenue would pay for enriched aid for low-income students. The remaining extra money would go toward offering a learning and research environment comparable to what prevails in those parts of the world where Arcade Fire has not yet smashed the one per cent.

Important decisions would need to be taken at the margin. Should Laval University in Quebec City be a tuition-free zone, or a third gated Grande École? What about the HEC business school in Montreal? Is it really fair for two of Montreal’s four big universities to be cloisters of snooty inequality, given that most of the protesters and their supporters are in Montreal? Maybe McGill could move to the Saguenay, or to Chelsea, a short drive from Ottawa. Let the protesters have the metropolis they want. Maybe if McGill doesn’t move, a small tuition-free enclave could be set up within its gates. Protesters could march out of their enclosure and complain about the elitism of the rest of the campus, every day at noon. Sort of like the bagpiper at Ogilvy’s department store, but with balaclavas.

I’m not serious. But interesting things would happen if Quebec tried such a thing. What would happen to enrolment at the low-tuition schools versus the others? Which schools would attract private philanthropy? How would the employment rates of different schools’ graduates compare? The protesters like to argue that education is a public good with no private benefit for the individual. Maybe they just haven’t had a chance to create schools where that’s the case. Yet.

In a province that simultaneously permitted contrasting models of higher education, a lively debate over the goals of an education would be guaranteed. In Quebec, thanks to Charest’s late start and lousy execution, it’s fast becoming impossible.


 

Let’s give the protesters what they want

  1. Really? The protesters are arguing there’s no private benefit for the individual? Do you have a citation for that or are you just talking out your ass there because it supports the theme you want to push? I mean, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure everybody understands there’s private benefits to the individual — just that the public sphere benefits even more.

    • Who in his right mind would jeopardize his or her school semester to fight a cause they beleive in if they thought there were no benefits for them to acquire a higher education? One must have a very poor opinion of our youth or just plain not care about them…

      • But in fact (and I don’t know exactly how this fits in with what you Thwim and Canabecker wrote), the student protesters have been playing down the personal benefit aspect of their cause (i.e., they would pay low fees) and highlighting the “public good” argument (low fees increase accessibility for all). They have been very vocal denouncing other students as “selfish” for wanting to continue or return to their studies.

        • Thwim has been doing exactly that as well, in the comments on a previous post.

          • Actually, I’ve never denounced any student as anything for wanting to continue or return to their studies, nor have I downplayed the personal benefits of the protesting students’ cause.

            My argument has been entirely with those who think that the personal benefit someone receives from their education is greater than the societal benefit we receive from their educations, and thus it is justified that society does not fully support their education.

            To be honest, I think that tuition should be entirely deregulated and universities allowed to charge whatever they like. However, that should only happen if we have in place a system of student financial assistance which means first that any student can go to any university regardless of the tuition it costs, and second that the student need not fear any debt for that assistance where it’s lead to successful completion of the course or academic year. And yeah, this should apply to trade-schools as well as full-blown universities.

          • Sorry, I should have been more specific in what I was linking you to, which was not the conduct of the strikers to their fellow students, but the cost-benefit calculation: in my mind, claiming that the societal benefit of an individual receiving higher education is greater than the benefit to the individual is objectively wrong. You yourself pointed out that the average income increases $1 million over a lifetime with post-secondary education: that individual benefit is obviously disproportionate what that same graduate is likely to provide to the greater populace that paid for his education. I feel that you have been emphasizing the collective benefits and the individual cost, when the burdens and perks go overwhelmingly the other way.

            It’s moot, however, since we somehow appear to agree otherwise on the larger policy question.

          • Except it’s not objectively wrong. A million dollars is a decent amount of money. Sure. But how much money is saved because graduates require EI and welfare less, and use less health care? How much money is saved when a business that a graduate starts (which they are more likely to do) employs other people who would be on EI? How much does our economy benefit when a business started by a graduate is successful (again, more likely to happen then those started by non-graduates) and *outlives* the graduate? Almost every large Canadian business that exists today was started by a post-secondary graduate. To somehow argue that society hasn’t benefited more from their education, over the large picture, is ludicrous.

            Beyond that, however, even if they *do* benefit more, the other side of the coin is society benefits as well, and graduates more than repay the costs to society for their education. What you seem to be suggesting is that we shouldn’t help others if it doesn’t help ourselves as much, and that’s just simply pathetic.

          • You are persisting in comparing the general to the particular. The “average” graduate gets $1million for his education. The “average” graduate will be less likely to use EI anyway, because the “average” graduate is already better equipped intellectually for success in the modern economy. The “average” graduate does not start businesses, but will instead become a worker bee at a higher rate of pay than the other workers bees that subsidized his education (moving to the particular, I would wager that there are far more university grads that have used EI than have started businesses). Most importantly, the “average” graduate is already from a middle-to-upper class backgrounds and can already afford to pay more for their education, leaving more money in the coffers to provide direct benefits to the more needy, while still allowing for all of the miraculous benefits that the thousands of English Lit. B.A.’s unleashed upon this country each year have afforded us thus far.

            I am not suggesting that we should not help others if it does not help ourselves. I am suggesting that the government needs to prioritize, and that providing subsidies to people that do not need them, and that provide disproportionate benefits that are thus already well-incentivized is perhaps not the best use of their funds. Subsidize – generously – those who need it. Those who can pay more, should. History has shown they will. Pragmatically speaking, society reaps the benefits either way.

            NB: “Wrong” and “pathetic” are, in my view, different categories of adjective. I’d like to remain civil.

  2. ” The protesters like to argue that education is a public good with no private benefit for the individual. ”
    No one seriously said that. They’re saying that, like many things in life, it’s both. And about your point that Jean Charest doesn’t care about underfunding, well a large segment of the francophones don’t either. A large part of the opposition to the student movement comes from people who just don’t care about anything that has to do with higher eduction, period. They don’t want to pay more. This is fine but to equate that with the wish to have better funded universities is wrong. They highest proportion of people against the students demands is in the area around Quebec City. Well, last time they had a march, it was for a publicly funded arena for a team they don’t have yet. As I recall, Jean Charest was much less concerned about the asking them to do their “fair share”. Different priorities, it seems.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t arguments for the increase in fees, there are. But the current funding model is broken and higher tuition simply does not directly translate to better teaching and research. Yes they need more funding but giving them a blank cheque is not a great idea either.

  3. “You can’t have a university system in which education is free for
    everyone, at the same time you have a system where complex modern
    research and teaching are funded at healthy levels.”

    — Really? Ask the Swedes, the Danish, Norway…

    • If we adopt Sweden’s financing plan for universities, would we also implement their more stringent acceptance policies? It’s a point system, if I’m not mistaken.

      • Or how about implementing the mandatory military service that is required in those countries as well.

    • Perhaps adding “, without a 25% VAT” would help. That’s what Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have. If Quebecers are willing to assume an increase in HST to fund free university tuition (among other things), then more power to them. If they are expecting free university tuition by making the banks (or some other bogeyman) pay for it, then that’s a different kettle of (smelly) fish.

      • Considering they already pay the highest taxes in North America.. perhaps knowing what the hell you’re talking about would help.

  4. Oh, brilliant idea. Let’s pander to the narcissistic anarchists who use violent protests to whine about tuition increases that would still not put them at par with the tuition costs in most of the rest of Canada.

    • Tuition is not like the weather, something you can’t control. It’s about priorities. If other provinces want to have lower tuition, good for them.

      • Tuition lower at whose expense? Someone has to pay for it. Quebec can’t be a welfare nation forever. If they don’t pay for it now through slightly higher tuition, then they will pay for it when they enter the workforce through sky high taxes.

        • “they will pay for it when they enter the workforce”
          That is the point, keywords here being “when they enter”.

        • Agreed…and, if they don’t increase tuition, the universities in Quebec will no longer be able to afford to retain and recruit quality professors – and the quality of education in Quebec will suffer.
          The proposed increases will still not raise Quebec tuition as high as it is in most other Canadian provinces.

      • No Jply, the tuition in most other provinces is higher! The increases in Quebec still won’t bring them up to par (i.e. as high) as the other provinces.

        • That’s what I mean: higher tuition in the other provinces is not an act of God. If you’re jealous of the Quebec tuition rates, then by all means raise your taxes and lower them. If you don’t believe this is worth having higher taxes, then please stop whining. There deep cultural and historic reasons for the current events in Quebec but many people here seem to lack the curiosity to learn more about it.

        • Tuitions are only low in Quebec if you look at them as an absolute dollar value.

          If instead you look at them in relation to the median after tax wage, they’re about middle of the pack. Lowest tuition in that respect is in Alberta. And here we’ve got legislation guaranteeing that tuition won’t rise faster than CPI.

  5. Too complicated PW.Much simpler to give the Habs A bye to the SC final each year. Hah maybe bill 78 will come in handy for the riot afterward?

    Shouldn’t joke really. 78 is a gallactically stupid overreach in some of its measures. There already were applicable laws that could have been used against the worst of the thuggish behavior – surely? They just have to be used. What an amateur move by Charest. Looks like its time for him to retire- until you consider the alternative.

  6. I cannot wait to see some of the comments here when these same students will be at the head of the government some years from now and they decide to lower our pensions down to 82% (wich is equivalent of the tuition increase). Je me souviens…

  7. The Universitas 21 Ranking was announced May 11, 2012. Universitas 21, a leading global network of research universities, has developed the ranking as a benchmark for governments, education institutions and individuals. It aims to highlight the importance of creating a strong environment for higher education institutions to contribute to economic and cultural development, and provide a high-quality experience for students.
    Canada ranked 3rd, behind only the US and Sweden. Two of the top 3 countries in the world to attend university do not provide free tuition. They also noted that while The Nordic countries do provide free tuition, they spend less by percentage of GDP than Canada, who ranked 1st in available resources, does.

    • What percentage of youth in the Nordic countries where tuition is free actually attend university?

      • According to the OECD Canada ranks 2nd in percentage of the population with a tertiary education. The best any Nordic Country performs is 6th, though they are all above the OECD average.

    • Sweden has a VAT rate of 25%. Perhaps the students should propose increasing the HST in Quebec to pay for their desired free tuition. After all, if education is a public good that benefits all of society, then surely all of society should be expected to pony up for it.

  8. Wells is forgetting that the provincial education system in Quebec is radically different from that of the rest of the world.

    Cegeps — a wonderful thing that Canadians should copy — are huge game-changer in any equation.

    Also, the high school regime is 3 tiered in Quebec. You can go to public (free), semi-private (3,000$ per year), or fully-private (14K$ +). Montrealers know the costs and benefits of this unique high school system and they are divided on whether to apply this to university.

    Wells should be careful not to pounce on narrow-minded ideas. Throwing in a few cultural references to Ogilvy’s and the Saguenay don’t add to the credibility of the piece.

  9. As an American with the name “Jean Claude” I have a right to weigh in on the Quebec student protests – and will do so.
    First, the cost of a university education in Quebec compared to the United States is BEYOND cheap. So shut up.
    Second, the riots should be met with OVERWHELMING force – batons, tears gas, rubber bullets and water canons. Don’t want to go to class? You’d better get ready to cry after a rubber bullet strikes you in your shin (causing a hairline fracture) and tear gas envelops you while a policeman buffets you with repeated baton blows.
    Third, I LOVE partying in Montreal. Love it. The chickies….are luscious. And it perturbs me to think that my cavorting will be interrupted by rioting “students”. So, Mr. Charest, ball up and break this strike. Imprison ANYONE, and I mean ANYONE, who resists. Because I’m flying in next Thursday and want to “party hearty” without some smelly miscreant drownin’ my buzz. Got it?

    • You, sir, are an outrage! We are fighting for our freedom from imperialist tyranny. Education is a social right – not a privilege. I, for one, do not subscribe (yet) that we must destroy Montreal and Quebec City in order to save it – but I certainly sympathize with the sentiment. Canada is great because, unlike the United States, we take care of one another. And how dare you tell me, and others who have bled on the line battling the fascistic police, to shut up. How dare you!

      • I’m no specialist, but if you think Quebec is an imperialistic society, maybe you should consider taking a few history and politics classes…

        • I’m with J. A lesson needs to be learned here. Maybe the answer is free education, just so people will be educated enough to understand how good the pampered life they lead with such a sense of entitlement is, and cut out the “Imperialist”. Facist” and “Nazi” B.S.
          I’ve lived in countries where the government sent the army into the streets to shoot at peaceful protesters who just wanted the right to vote for the people who make the decisions that effect their lives. And when I say shoot, I don’t mean rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. That is facism, that is tyranny.
          A police force that responds to violence and vandalism, and threats to their own personal safety and the safety of the citizenry they are sworn to protect with non-lethal means, or simply arrests, is showing more discretion than may be deserved.

          • Chris Watts, I suggest you venture out from your mom’s basment every once in a while and try actually take part in a real live protest instead of watching it on TV and accepting whatever the corporate controlled news media tells you. Maybe you’ll learn something about the real world.
            In 1995 at Gustafsen lake the government sent in the army to remove native protesters. They army planted plastic explosives in an attempt to discredit them. The army even shot up their own flak jackets to make it seem like they had been shot at. In 1990 there was the Oka crisis, again involving the army. At Ipperwash, the OPP murdered Duddely George. In 2010 at the G20 Summitt in Toronto 1100 people were randomly arrested and imprisoned without charges. Before and during the G20 protest, innocent bystanders were savagely attacked, threatened and/or beaten, including a man with an artificial leg, housewives, soccer moms, people who were not even protesting, a street car driver and a bicycle courier. Seven women were sexually groped by male officers while in custody and two of these women were raped. Maier Arar was sent to Syria to be tortured with the help and blessing of the Canadian government. The list of atrocities goes on and on…..
            Is that fascist enough for you?
            You have a very Walt Disney view of Canada if you think we don’t live in a police state. If anyone is pampered, maybe it’s you, and you’re simply projecting that on to others.

          • Considering that you are replying to a comment where I speak of spending time in foriegn countries, the first part of your argument makes no sense. Secondly, I’ve been in marches, supporting friends and coworkers when we were fired upon by the RNA. I’ve had a friend killed when a motorcycle bomb was detonated by the army in a crowded marketplace in an attempt to discredit the protestors.
            Your view of Canada is obviously quite grim, and quite one sided. When a group of innocent police officers is attacked by a mob that outnumbers them 100-1, do they not have the right to protect themselves? In certain extreme cases, like a full scale riot, should the police not have the right to tell people to leave the area. I had a guy in an orange vest with a caution sign tell me I couldn’t drive in the left lane on the way home today, don’t the police deserve at least as much authority.

    • Don’t worry Jean-Claude. More tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets than you’ve ever seen will be coming to American city near you in the coming months and years, because far too many people like yourself view protests as radical, threatening acts of terrorism rather than a vital component to any free and justly-governed society, are welcoming the fascist takeover.

      Maybe you never knew this, but if you did, I’ll refresh your memory. Without protests, you would be working 6 or 7 days a week, not 5. You would not have any vacation. You would not have any pension. You would not get any sick days. Your mother (I hope you don’t have a wife, but it applies to her too if you do) would not be able to vote, and could be fired from her job if she got pregnant. There would be little if any safety regulations at your job, where you might have started work as early as age 5 or 6. Is that the world you’d like to return to?

      While I do not agree that free education is right, it is certainly more reasonable to claim that than it is for any government of a supposed “free country” to meet (generally) non-violent protests with tear gas, batons, pepper spray, and rubber bullets.

      • Jim –
        Riddle me this…what’s more important….union rights (which is what your describing and, by the way, I support) or the right to a cheap (these guys want it FREE) university education?
        You are conflating protest for REASONABLE things (re-read your post with its faux straw-man arguments) with a completely, and utterly, insane protest. The protestors in Quebec (your friends with the smoke bombs and Molotov cocktails and rocks) are cartoon characters. And they are not “(generally)” non-violent. If they were, they wouldn’t be shutting down Metro stations, they wouldn’t be smashing windows and they wouldn’t be throwing rocks at the police. They are exceptionally violent and exceptionally dangerous. Or haven’t you been paying attention, sir?
        As a general rule, protests are fine. In fact, I ENCOURAGE them. But violent protest? Nah. I’ll pass on saying grace over that, Jim. As for the United States…We have freedom of speech. We have freedom of assembly. We ahve freedom of religion, too. With its restrictive “speech codes” and recent passed laws against assembly Canada effectively has none of these things.
        I have spent good money on my upcoming trip to Montreal. I will pay taxes on beer. I will pay taxes on spirits. I will pay taxes on food (!). I will pay taxes on my hotel stay. All for these clowns. Strike that…for these VIOLENT clowns. Your amigos. Your “people”. And I RESENT it. And I resent you, sir. I resent YOU.

        • Jean Claude, I will not rest until every Canadian child is provided one free Guy Fawkes mask at birth. Only then will I be truly proud of my country.

          • Linus – Like you, I was born with what, at first glance, appears to be unfortunate name. But I have taken the abuse that comes with such a name with elan and dignity. I wonder, out loud, whether Jim D is an apologist for one Guy Fawkes. A Catholic (!) insurrectionist. And a popinjay of the highest order. I draw YOUR attention, and Jim D’s too, to the fact that I am, in fact, married. And she’s pregnant, too. So there! Now hold on, Jim D! HOLD ON. I’m NOT a philanderer. I am a traveler – not unlike the gents who set off the smoke bomb in the Metro station or cracked open the skull of that poor copper. I experience things as they come to me. Rubber bullets. Pepper spray. Water canons. And a baton (to the face, preferably). So, too, will I experience the glories of Montreal – replete with Francophone pleasantries and delicious omelets served with (piping) hot French (Quebecois?) pressed coffee. And I do not, for any reason, want that avalanche of sensory pleasure to be diluted, or corrupted, by fetid protestors. Selfish? Perhaps. I get asked (all the time) why I don’t “rush to the barricades” that seem omnipresent (like our Lord) throughout my beloved Quebec. I say in response, no matter what time of day, that’s coffee time. Or whiskey time. Or, more likely, party time….

          • Linus – Like you, I was born with what, at first glance, appears to be unfortunate name. But I have taken the abuse that comes with such a name with elan and dignity. I wonder, out loud, whether Jim D is an apologist for one Guy Fawkes. A Catholic (!) insurrectionist. And a popinjay of the highest order. I draw YOUR attention, and Jim D’s too, to the fact that I am, in fact, married. And she’s pregnant, too. So there! Now hold on, Jim D! HOLD ON. I’m NOT a philanderer. I am a traveler – not unlike the gents who set off the smoke bomb in the Metro station or cracked open the skull of that poor copper. I experience things as they come to me. Rubber bullets. Pepper spray. Water canons. And a baton (to the face, preferably). So, too, will I experience the glories of Montreal – replete with Francophone pleasantries and delicious omelets served with (piping) hot French (Quebecois?) pressed coffee. And I do not, for any reason, want that avalanche of sensory pleasure to be diluted, or corrupted, by fetid protestors. Selfish? Perhaps. I get asked (all the time) why I don’t “rush to the barricades” that seem omnipresent (like our Lord) throughout my beloved Quebec. I say in response, no matter what time of day, that’s coffee time. Or whiskey time. Or, more likely, party time….

          • Agreed Linus, peaceful protest is the basis from which opinion is voiced. The organizers just need to plan for these ‘plants’ placed there by unscrupulous government officials and police forces that intentionally sabotage the protests by starting violence so the protest can be crushed.
            Have you forgotten the famous protestors from the G20 summit… all of the violence was instigated by them and then spread… though it seems even when this is caught on camera, they all managed to evade capture… interesting.

        • I was not aware of the more violent aspects of the protest, so I stand corrected on that. Violent protest should be responded to with an appropriate counter-measure of violence I suppose.

          I have no dogs in the fight in Quebec, so they aren’t my people, but I do identify with people (not just in Quebec) who have to pay triple what I paid for tuition when I started University less than 20 years ago. Wages have increased by maybe 20% over that period.

          The US may not have actually circumvented any of its Bill of Rights freedoms with legislation (although the NDAA certainly comes to mind), but free speech is a thing of the past in the US as well – hence the need for “free speech zones”.

          My central position in all of this is that governments (not Canada’s, and certainly not the USA’s) no longer represent the people, and their status as marionette to the corporate elite is becoming in-your-face obvious. The battle isn’t free tuition vs. higher taxes, because believe me, if we got rid of fractional reserve private central banks, needless wars of aggression, unprosecuted white collar fraud and theft, and general government incompetence, we could all have free tuition and a lot more, while paying fewer taxes.

        • Sorry Jean-Claude you gave up all of your rights with the passage of the patriot act amendments in 2003. You can be pulled off of the street for NO reason, without your family, friends, lawyer or any court ever being informed. You can be tortured daily for as long as your captors wish, including for the rest of your life, all without anyone ever knowing what happened to you. It is against the law and considered a threat to national security to criticize any government policy under that same patriot act.

          Get off of your high horse, you live in a 1950s USSR type society now.

          Freedom of religion huh? Move to California, become a Muslim, go to Afghanistan and fight for your beliefs… I suspect when you come back you too will end up with life in prison just like someone else who did exactly that. Freedom of religion as long as you do what you are told, or pick a government approved religion is more like it.

          Your press doesn’t even have the freedom to publish events of there armed invasions your country is continually rationalizing.

          Yankee go home…

    • The problem is that Quebec considers itself more European and holds out the model of free education in many EU countries as the true ideal.

  10. ugh, again another lazy editorial that starts with the assumption that the post secondary education funding shortfall has nothing to do with spending prioritization, frames all post secondary education as simply an engine for job creation, and paints those involved in the protest as idealistic hippies. Gee, I’d sure love to have a writing gig where I could be paid for submitting the same article 6 times.

  11. So close to 43% agree with the protesters? Simple reply. Free tuition for all Universities but our GST will need to rise by 10% to cover the costs. Oops, 43% support just plummeted.
    (if it doesn’t makes a great case for the voting powers of this country to be held by only the working taxpayers). What is it with this mentality in Canada that its us the people vs them the government. We are the government! So when you dream of pie in the sky ideas its our money that pays for it. Not Charest, not Harper its us. Charest of course can not back down. First off if he does then a precedence is set for mob rule. We can all just break windows and protest for free ice cream! Second the rest of Canada would be and should be pretty pissed off considering the province is on welfare. The Canadian people support Quebec’s lavish social lifestyle and it must stop!

    • That is the problem with the protesters and their supporters, they are more Greek than the Greeks in Athens. Everyone wants something but expects someone else to pay for it.

      If the supporters on the street really think a free education is a good idea ask for a increase in taxes!!

  12. O.K. Let’s give free tuition to all university students.
    But what about all the young adults who don’t go to university.
    What ‘free’ do they get?

  13. Your model of underfunded egalitarian uselessness alongside somewhat-more-fairly-priced quality already exists, Paul. It’s called Quebec and the rest of the world.

    • Not all of the rest of the world.