Earlier this week, we asked HuffPost Quebec readers to explain the student movement to the rest of us -- the real deal on protests that have racked the province since plans to raise tuition fees were announced in March 2011.
Finance Minister Raymond Bachand's announcement became a flash-point for thousands of students, who balked at the $325 tuition raise.
Over the next five years, the total increase would amount to an extra $1,625. Even so, the total tuition would keep the province's rates among the lowest in the country. That's become a popular refrain among government officials, looking to define the protest as simply tuition outrage. In May, the Jean Charest government ushered in sweeping emergency measures -- the much-reviled Bill 78 -- to counter swelling street protests.
But, as HuffPost Quebec readers pointed out, the trouble in Quebec runs much deeper than a tuition hike.
Now, we turn to our HuffPost Quebec bloggers who have been grappling with this crucial question at a turning point in the province's history.
Here's what 15 top bloggers have to say:
Annick Vigeant, Translator, blogger and co-founder Quelque part
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/annick-vigeant/casseroles-quebec_b_1547620.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On the significance of pots and pans protests</a>: </em> In allowing the situation to further deteriorate for its own purposes, the government awakened certain buried frustrations that otherwise, would have been left untouched. Such a crisis would never have been born in the hands of a responsible government. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/annick-vigeant" target="_hplink">Annick Vigeant on The Blog</a>. Visit also <a href="http://qqpart.com" target="_hplink">Quelque part</a>
René Forget: Comedian and ex-police officer
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/rene-forget/police-quebec_b_1546476.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On the role of police in this conflict</a>:</em> Open your arms to the students, negotiate a truce, and succeed where the government has failed. You are the police, you must be calm when we are angry, strong when we are weak, flexible when we are unrelenting, you must listen to us, reassure us, and guide us. You, the police, must save us, even if it's from ourselves. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/rene-forget" target="_hplink">René Forget</a> on The Blog.
Giscard Tremblay: Blogger
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/giscard-tremblay/elections-qeubec_b_1541128.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On future elections:</a> </em> Let's imagine that Charest calls an election right now. Who are we going to vote for? Jean Charest? He's clearly not a leader. Pauline Marois, Charest's red square opportunist? No, thank you. François Legault, who pushed Bill 78, and who welcomes into his party the dejected from the right and left? The ADQ (Action Democratique Quebec), it's so empty... Oh wait! It's the CAQ (Coalition Avenir Quebec) that's so empty! Québec Solitaire (sic)? <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/giscard-tremblay" target="_hplink">Giscard Tremblay</a> on The Blog.
Christine Fréchette: Analyst, American politics
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/christine-frechette/suggestion-gouvernement-responsable_b_1535755.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On Bill 78:</a></em> Now, if the government truly wishes to regulate the revenue problem of universities, all it has to do is announce it will take the estimated cost of Bill 78, and invest it into Quebecois universities. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/christine-frechette" target="_hplink">Christine Fréchette on The Blog</a>
Francine Pelletier: Journalist, director and scriptwriter
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/francine-pelletier/loi-78_b_1543098.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On violating Bill 78:</a></em> Sometimes, there are actions more worthy of respect, and certainly more brave, than to simply genuflect, to bend down before the law. Naturally, we understand the needs of jurists and politicians to reiterate their attachments to democratic rule since it's their meal ticket. The problem is that democracy does not go exclusively on the side of the law. Democracy measures itself just as much, and sometimes more so, on the side of dissent. Being able to oppose that which strikes us as unjust is just as important, and somewhat more complicated, than going to vote. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/francine-pelletier" target="_hplink">Francine Pelletier on The Blog</a>
Simon Delorme: Political science student, Université de Montréal
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/simon-delorme/manifestation-20-mai-montreal-arrestations_b_1534068.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On protesting:</a></em> As I said in my introduction, I am not a radical. I am a citizen. The average individual. A John Doe. I don't want to overthrow the government, the state, or capitalism. I just want to express myself peacefully. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/simon-delorme" target="_hplink">Simon Delorme on The Blog</a>
Victor-Lévy Beaulieu: Writer, playwright and editor
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/victor-levy-beaulieu/gabriel-nadeau-dubois_b_1542354.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">In his letter congratulating radical student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois</a></em>: As Jean-Paul Sartre said, we are never radical enough, especially when we are young, and have before us so many dead corpses of the past. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/victor-levy-beaulieu" target="_hplink">Victor-Lévy Beaulieu</a> on The Blog
Pascal Henrard: Writer
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/pascal-henrard/jetais-pour_b_1472816.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On the tuition increase:</a></em> At first, I was for the tuition hikes and against the strikes. I found it normal that everyone ought to pay for what he gets. I was never affected by the government beating us over the head with its sleep-inducing statements that all students had to "pay their share," but a little bump in tuition, I told myself, couldn't do much harm. Or at least, as far as my own comfort was concerned. Then I changed my mind. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/pascal-henrard/" target="_hplink">Pascal Henrard writer Blog</a>
Pierre Luc Brisson: Former political attaché
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/pierre-luc-brisson/jean-charest-loi-speciale_b_1522999.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On Jean Charest:</a></em> He must have nine lives. Every time he seems weakened by a crisis, or by the resignation of one of his ministers (Séguin, Bellemare, Couillard, Mulcair, etc.), he amazes political pundits by bouncing back; a true political cat, always with a trick up his sleeve. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/pierre-luc-brisson" target="_hplink">Pierre Luc Brisson on The Blog</a>
Vladimir de Thézier: Co-founder of political party Option nationale
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/vladimir-de-th/gratuite-scolaire_b_1475375.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On free education:</a></em> They keep rehashing the comparison between the rest of Canada and the United States in the hopes that Quebec will be able to imitate them. We cannot remove our gaze from North America, and therefore, forget our friends in Mexico who enjoy free education at the university level. Economic discourse champions the concept of globalization, but when it comes to financing our education, we've become short-sighted, chained to the American-Canadian model. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/vladimir-de-th" target="_hplink">Vladimir de Thézier on The Blog</a>
Martin Lavallée: Graduate student, Université du Québec à Montréal
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/martin-lavalee/unviersites-quebec_b_1466384.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On having top-ranking universities in Quebec:</a></em> In the context of a government that is deeply in debt, and is not in a position to finance our universities, the increase in tuition seeks to respond to the costs that arise for advanced research and assistance in recruiting the best international students. All of this is in the aim of having our universities recognized as "prestigious" and of "international renown." But the question remains: Are Quebecois students prepared to pay more so that their schools are recognized internationally by a minority of individuals whose criteria is that of a neoliberal global market which seeks to meet the needs of private corporations? <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/martin-lavalee" target="_hplink">Martin Lavallée on The Blog</a>
Reynaldo Marquez: Lawyer and journalist
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/reynaldo-marquez/pour-la-hausse-frais-de-scolarite_b_1442297.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On why we should raise tuition fees:</a></em> The tuition freeze of the past nine years cannot continue. Remember, we're coming out of an economic crisis, and our exports have been diminishing, or at best, stagnating for the past two years. This is not counting the fact that Ottawa has reduced funding for post-secondary education as part of its plan to reduce the deficit. Our public finances are in bad shape. The freeze was a luxury; we don't have the means to maintain it anymore. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/reynaldo-marquez" target="_hplink">Reynaldo Marquez on The Blog</a>
Lise Ravary: Journalist, media personality
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/lise-ravary/pour-la-hausse_b_1371566.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On why she supports the tuition hike:</a></em> The examples of western nations where university is free do not reassure me in the slightest. In Scotland, where university is free for citizens, there is a rationing of places. St. Andrew's, the McGill of Scotland, accepts only 30 per cent of Scottish students. The rest of the students are foreigners (this includes the English) because the university doesn't have the means to accept more Scots. In France, where tuition is exceptionally low, the grounds are falling apart, people freeze in corridors during the winter, the libraries are devoid of recent books, the best professors are nowhere to be found, thousands of students pile themselves in the same auditoriums, etc. The system is broken, say French professors. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/lise-ravary" target="_hplink">Lise Ravary on The Blog</a>
Marie-Lyse Paquin: Blogger and web consultant
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marielyse-paquin/greve-etudiante_b_1539248.html?ref=canada-quebec" target="_hplink">On Quebec's youth and Bill 78:</a> I am one those people who believes ideas are what change the world, not technology, not money; ideas! And these ideas have been circulating for quite some time now. There are those who say youth preoccupy themselves with everything, but even when they're confused, they can still see the bankruptcy of the system. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/marielyse-paquin/" target="_hplink">Marie-Lyse Paquin on The Blog</a>
Mélanie Joly: Managing Partner, Cohn & Wolfe
<em><a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/melanie-joly/loi-78_b_1541989.html?ref=greve-etudiante" target="_hplink">On political cynicism:</a></em> Not only must the government face its increasing unpopularity, but also the fact that those elected are the victims of the devaluation of their offices. Not only have we lost our confidence in the government, but in our representatives in the national assembly as well. <a href="http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/melanie-joly" target="_hplink">Mélanie Joly on The Blog</a>