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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  • The clanging pots of student unrest that have rattled Montreal and Quebec City for several nights are coming noisily to life in other parts of the province. (Text: CP)

  • People took up the percussive protest Thursday night in several towns and cities including Sorel, Longueuil, Chambly, Repentigny, Trois-Rivieres and even in Abitibi -- several hundred kilometres away from the hot spot of Montreal (Text: CP)

  • They were still loudest in Montreal, where a chorus of metallic clanks rang out in neighbourhoods around the city, spilling into the main demonstrations and sounding like aluminum symphonies. (Text: CP)

  • The pots-and-pans protest has its roots in Chile, where people have used it for years as an effective, peaceful tool to express civil disobedience. The noisy cacerolazo tradition actually predates the Pinochet regime in Chile, but has endured there and spread to other countries as a method of showing popular defiance. (Text: CP)

  • Thursday's protest in Montreal was immediately declared illegal by police, who said it violated a municipal bylaw because they hadn't been informed of the route. They allowed it to continue as long as it remained peaceful. (Text: CP)

  • Although there was a massive police presence throughout the evening with the roar of a provincial police helicopter competing with the banging of the pots, there was little if any tension reported between demonstrators and police. (Text: CP)

  • People tapped the pots as they walked, the sounds mingling with shouts and chants. Others leaned out of car windows to bang their pans and one protester smacked a pot right in front of one police officer who looked on indifferently. (Text: CP)

  • Usually the nightly street demonstrations, which have gone on for a month, have a couple of vigorous drummers to speed them along their route. At the very least, someone clangs a cow bell. (Text: CP)

  • But in the last few days, the pots and pans protest -- dubbed the casseroles by observers -- have acted like an alarm clock for the regular evening march, sounding at 8 p.m. on the nose in advance of the march's start. (Text: CP)

  • While thousands, including children, their parents, students and the elderly, packed the streets in support, the Twitterverse exploded with reactions and observations. (Text: CP)

  • "Spotted a man in an Armani suit banging a pot," tweeted Christina Stimpson on one of Thursday's participants. "Feel the love people." (Text: CP)

  • Another man rolled a small barbecue through the streets of Montreal, banging the lid. The joviality was a far cry from late Wednesday when police decided to shut down a largely peaceful evening march after they said projectiles were thrown and criminal acts were committed. (Text: CP)