Bottom: Photo from last Saturday's march in Montreal
celebrating victory and calling for free tuition.
Pauline Marois, the newly elected premier of Quebec, has announced the cancellation of the student tuition fee hike. The hike was repealed by the Parti Québécois government. The draconian Bill-78 that was enacted to put a damper on protest is also on the PQ hitlist - Marois said objectionable sections of the Bill i.e. Law 12 will be nullified by decree.
Yes it can be done even against steep odds. Students can challenge the neoliberal policies of a standing government and win - perhaps even contributing to that government's downfall. As Naomi Klein noted in a recent tweet - "This is why radical movements are mercilessly mocked. They can win."
The announcement by Marois was hailed as a "total victory" by Martine Desjardine, president of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec. She called the decision "a triumph of justice and equity."
On Saturday a march was held to celebrate the victory and also to call for free university tuition. According to CBC it drew around 300 people.The Quebec student organization CLASSE believes that free education is an achievable goal.
Quebec student group CLASSE presented a two-phase counter offer to the Quebec government Thursday morning which would culminate in the total elimination of tuition fees by 2016...
As an immediate solution to the tuition debate impasse, the group proposed a reduction in the amount of money spent on research and publicity by the province's universities, a salary freeze for the institutions' top administrators and the scrapping of major infrastructure projects like satellite campuses.
In reference to the plan CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said: "I believe it is a plan that is responsible, a plan that is concrete . . . part of a vision that is much more promising for Quebec than what is proposed by the Liberals."
An interesting proposition put forward by CLASSE involves taxing the banks - "the restoration of the capital tax on financial institutions." According to the calculations of CLASSE a tax of 0.14% this year that would rise to 0.7% by 2016 would cover the exact amount required for free school - $400 million.
In many European countries post-secondary education is free or as-good-as. The present position of the PQ government favors indexing tuition to the rate of inflation.