Quebec Bill 78 Denounced By UBC Student Union, Rejects Sending Donations

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The University of British Columbia student union will write to Quebec Premier Jean Charest, formally condemning Quebec's special law that puts restrictions on the tuition protests that have rocked that province for months.(CP/Douglas Williams)
The University of British Columbia student union will write to Quebec Premier Jean Charest, formally condemning Quebec's special law that puts restrictions on the tuition protests that have rocked that province for months.(CP/Douglas Williams)

VANCOUVER - The University of British Columbia student union will write to Quebec Premier Jean Charest, formally condemning Quebec's special law that puts restrictions on the tuition protests that have rocked that province for months.

The UBC student council passed a resolution earlier this week committing to call on Charest's government to respect the financial, legal and intellectual autonomy of Quebec student unions.

However, an amendment that would have sent money to a legal fund for the Quebec protesters was voted down.

"At this point in time, what was immediately needed was a stance on Bill 78, considering its potential implications to student associations across Canada," said Matt Parson, the student union president.

"We felt that to take a stance on the more broad happenings within Quebec at this point wasn't as urgent, and we could wait until our next council meeting."

Quebec's Bill 78 outlaws protests within 50 metres of a university or college and penalizes student unions if they don't tell their members to comply.

"We felt that they were quite heavy-handed and (had taken) punitive measures against the student associations within Quebec," Parson said. He said what especially worried him was the precedent it may set for how other governments deal with student protests.

"There's more than enough measures that the provincial government could use within the Criminal Code if it wants to stop the violent behaviour within the protests."

The UBC motion also disapproved of violence by all parties in the ongoing dispute.

UBC's student union currently has a policy of only opposing tuition increases that exceed the rate of inflation.

It also has a policy of not sending student money to third-party organizations. That policy was enacted after a controversy two years ago when a branch of the student union wanted to donate funds to a flotilla planning to run the Israeli naval blockade around the Gaza Strip.

Any donation to Quebec would require a suspension of that policy.

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