Well, it was quite the week -- beginning with a showy demonstration of fireworks for the visiting Royals and ending with demonstrations by thousands of student protestors in downtown Montreal. In between, HuffPost Canada celebrated its first birthday with quite the party. Our own royalty, HRH Arianna was, in attendance -- and our blogger, Lord Black, made his first big public appearance since being released from prison on May 4.
Last night marked a turning point in the Quebec student conflict, as police arrested over 500 protesters. The police have come under constant attack for being heavy handed in their approach, most often through their employment of tear gas; however, last night they used a different approach. It's called kettling.
Contrary to what is claimed repeatedly in the mainstream press, students are not saying that they should not pay their "fair share" for education and let the province sink into debt. In the context of the strike, where one stands on the above public financing options is certainly important, but it is ultimately of secondary significance.
Two quiet professors in yesterday's Globe and Mail drew upon that rarest resource in opinion writing (actual evidence). They noted one of the great unspoken truths about post-secondary education in Canada: the leading variable determining whether kids attend university or not is usually cultural pressure within one's social class -- not cost. For some reason, asking university-educated journalists to analyze politically active university students rarely yields these sorts of conclusions, however.
Once again, the boycotting students took to the streets of Montreal last night in protest of tuition hikes. Once again, Montrealers are subject to broken glass and a shattered downtown core. And once again, the student leaders of the organization refuse to take any responsibility or action for what they have unleashed on our beautiful city.
At stake is more than a mere tuition increase, but the very concept of accessible education. Do Quebecers want to maintain a proud tradition of accessible education? Or does the province want to limit opportunities so that only some can attend university and secure a promising future?
During this past Thursday's protests about tuition fees, Montreal's students found another foe worthy of their vociferous appeals to the masses: student scabs, who they claimed did not have the right to cross picket lines and go to classes. The protesters may indeed have 99 legitimate problems, but just to be clear, a scab isn't one.