POLITICS

Laurent Proulx, Laval Universite Student Asking For Injunction Against Quebec Protests

04/02/2012 01:51 EDT | Updated 06/02/2012 05:12 EDT
AFP/Getty Images
QUEBEC - The battle between the Quebec government and student protesters is playing out this week on multiple fronts — in the streets, courtrooms, boardrooms and assembly halls.

The next few days could be critical in the struggle over tuition hikes, after months of raucous protests that have forced many classrooms to close and clogged downtown streets.

With the clock ticking down on the school year, the government is warning that the current semester might be cancelled or extended for students whose faculties have been shut down.

Those warnings underscore the dilemmas faced by student associations as members gather for votes on whether to continue striking, and by post-secondary administrations grappling with options as the current semester stretches into its fourth month.

The tuition fight continued Monday in different parts of the province.

In Quebec City, a university student became the latest person to mount a legal challenge against the protests; Universite Laval student Laurent Proulx was seeking an injunction that would put an end to picket lines in the dispute at his school.

A judge is expected to rule on Tuesday morning.

The 24-year-old Proulx argued Monday the widespread demonstrations are causing him personal harm, and he said extending the school year wouldn't work for him because he has already committed to a future employer.

There have been two other recent legal challenges of the protests — with one in Alma being successful, forcing the reopening of a junior college, and one in Montreal being rejected.

A former soldier, Proulx said he's also worried the shutdown could have an impact on his chances of being admitted to law school. Like other students who have fought the shutdowns, Proulx argued nobody has the right to force universities to shut classrooms.

"In the name of a cause, of a perfectly just ideology, they're telling me they can infringe on my rights," said Proulx, who called the situation a case of "solidarity by force."

"The situation is urgent because nobody knows how far it will go. This (injunction request) is to avoid irreparable harm being caused, to me and to hundreds of students."

While students have called their actions "strikes," Proulx argued the right to strike comes from the Labour Code and called the current actions illegal.

At various points, up to 200,000 students have voted to "strike" at assemblies across the province.

In the meantime, they have organized a variety of protests at places ranging from bridges to the street outside the premier's family home.

Earlier on Monday, people sprayed red paint — the colour that symbolizes the protests movement — across a building in Montreal that houses the offices of the Education Department.

There were also traffic snarls Monday in Sherbrooke as students protested oustide the riding office of Premier Jean Charest. Students have been gathering outside the premier's Montreal home in recent days during brief demonstrations there.

The Quebec government plans to almost double tuition during the next five years to nearly $3,800, although it would still be among the lowest in Canada.

Recent surveys suggest public opinion is generally favourable to higher tuition, although one poll suggested the most popular outcome would be a compromise between the students and government.

The ground for compromise appears scarce, however.

The government says it's willing to consider increasing bursaries, as long as student groups renounce their demand for a tuition freeze — an opening position students have called unacceptable.

Some students are even calling for a cancellation of all tuition.

Also on HuffPost

Quebec Student Protests