05/28/2012 03:39 EDT | Updated 05/01/2015 04:59 EDT

Quebec Student Protests Explained To The Rest Of Canada (ROC) By HuffPost Quebec Readers


Many within Quebec have complained that the rest of Canada — the so-called ‘ROC’ — doesn’t get the protests that have seen thousands of people take to the streets nightly. They blame over-simplification by a media focused on the minutia of tuition increases and the spectacle of pot-banging protests and mass arrests for the lack of understanding.

So what’s driving this movement? Is it really a “group of entitled students” at war over a $325 tuition bump, as suggested by a provocative new Maclean’s magazine cover? Or is it something bigger, a public venting of angst fuelled by growing frustration with the Liberal government of Jean Charest, political corruption and anger over emergency Bill 78, which places strict limits on demonstrations of more than 50 people.

We turned to our French-speaking readers of Le Huffington Post Quebec and had our Quebec editors pose the question: If English Canada misunderstands the crisis, tell them what they need to know.

We asked the question on Facebook and Twitter. The answers came fast and furious. Here’s a selection of responses from Quebecers to the ROC, some edited and/or translated:

Come in the streets with us, talk to people, otherwise you are at risk to be disinformed by the media elite.

Gov wants to charge + for education and health; meanwhile doesn't tax companies extracting _B$_ of OUR resources #PlanNord

It's about the govt colluding with banks to make money off of loans and putting people further in debt

This isn't about entitlement. It's about govt hiking taxes on the middle class families and students

Strikers are preventing those who want (AND voted) to go back to class to do so, sometimes giving "courtesy visits".

Come here and talk to people it's the only way to understand debate with a view from the inside #ExpliquerauROC

We already pay a lot of taxes for higher ed.The gvt is asking for more directly from youth's pocket and is corrupted..

If, after 3 months of conflict, u still don't know what's going on in Qc, for god's sake go eat a timbit and let us separate

ROC should ask: If McGill can provide high quality education at QC rates, why is tuition so high in other provinces?

Also the mismanagement of universities - Concordia's prez earns $350,000/yr (more than Harper). This could fund tuition.

Not all of us QC students are on "strike!" It is just a minority. The majority of us go to class.

It's about not subjecting the next gen to the crushing debt that our gen had to take on in the ROC.

We pay the most taxes in the country, so we refuse to pay twice for our services.

Charest says there's no money for tuition, but he's investing $B in the already corrupt Plan Nord

Because for the first time in history, the younger generation faces a future more bleak than we did.

Because if we don't, who else will stand up for Quebecers anymore?#notHarper #notCharest #notTremblay

If it was just about $325, the movement would have faded by now. What else'd drive people to fight so hard for so long?

Their protest's about larger issues than tuition costs for students, it seems: about all they perceive as rotten in Qc.

losing sight of it's original purpose. NOT all quebecers are for the protests.

Majority of students not on strike. Those that are, being backed by opportune political parties + unions

Charest's liberals are an overwhelmingly unpopular Government knee deep in accusations of corruption, the Mafia is involved

The #ggi movement should not be limited to Qc. We fight for the principle of a more accessible education


Rejean Ethier

80% (tuition fee) increase. An intransigent government. Denying the right of students to demonstrate.

Alexandre Vaillant

I sincerely believe there is a misunderstanding of the conflict, mainly about the (tuition) increase of $325, which people talk about. It's not really $325. The first year is $325 the second year is $650, the 3rd year is $975, the 4th year is $1,300 and the 5thyear is $ 1,625 more...

Anne DeBlois

On the contrary, Canada understands very well. (I know this will not be published. No chance..)

Frederick Letourneau

I'll explain: In the beginning, there was Jean Charest. That’s it!

P-a Denis

English Canada does not understand because they already pay more for their higher education costs, and most provinces are less taxed than Quebec (do you see the parallel?) So when we compare ourselves, I guess we should be comforted.

Martin Bouchard

A disconnected people wakes up after years of being lulled by a corrupt political class. A revolution is made, but this time, not so quiet.

Chloé St-Gelais

..Quebec is perhaps the last place in North America where education is accessible and we want to protect it before we become like the rest of North America. Ours is not like their model. Americans face an economic crisis because of huge loans made to students, according to experts.. We must also show a government elected by only 25 per cent of the population that if we disagree with them, we are able to stand up. In the streets these are children, elderly people, families. Everyone is tired of it. If something is taken from you, you need to fight for it.

Vincent McNicoll

Please tell our Canadian friends this: It's a full blown social crisis, [a protest aimed] at the establishment and the totalitarian regime of the rich multinationals that are backing-up the actual governments.

Philippe Tremblay

It's not about the students anymore. Years of corruption scandals left Charest with little moral authority to govern. He managed the tuition crisis so badly that he lost any remnant of that authority. Bill 78 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He won't be able to find a solution because he is part of the problem. Time for him to resign and call for general elections.

Sébastien Héon

They will never understand. I live in the ROC and even after explaining what is going on in Quebec people call us anarchists.. They think people in the streets of Montreal are chanting "fuck the world".. I think they don't want to understand.

Mathieu Bissonnette

The current crisis in Quebec goes well beyond the issue of tuition fees. In fact, if the government had settled the student strike earlier, instead of playing hard-line, we would never be here. But gradually, as the unrest grew, those with other grievances rallied with the students. Whether it’s the many corruption scandals that have plagued the Liberal government of Quebec for the past 10 years, the sale of natural resources in the far north at a discount, the use of polluting energies such as shale gas, or the lack of expenditure management in virtually all major projects affecting the province, all the protesters have found a cause to defend. Then came Bill 78 ... a law intended to silence protesters and political opponents in order to preserve the peace. I ask the question: Would there be a law in Canada that declares a gathering illegal before it has even started, when there has been no acts of violence? This law made everyone angry and rallied more people to the cause. Today it was announced that the government will meet with student leaders Monday: Too little, too late.

Denis Roy

Some people from Vancouver and Calgary do understand : I know that for a fact! But it does seem to be a small minority. What would I want to say? Well, look at how much taxes we pay, and then look at our roads, our health care system, and the overall reputation of our government (the most corrupt, according to Maclean's). The citizens of our province are fed up with this. It is the students that started the movement when they were told they would suddenly have to pay a 75% percent increase of their tuitions fee over the course of 5 years. While at the same time, they were reading about scandals concerning administrative employees of universities, who would vote themselves salary increase and departure packages, and then quit during the same year. The increase of tuition fees was not justified at all on paper, and they already had proof that mismanagement occurred on a regular basis. But still, the government wanted them to pay for this poor management of the education system. They were absolutely right to ask the government to justify itself first. But they did squat for two months.. So many unpopular initiatives and scandals were brought by this government over the last 5 years... When they voted a special law based upon lies and bad faith, a law that would make sure to restrict every citizen's rights, it sparked the interest of all the population. Some people awoke. As of late, we are not complaining in our dining room and on the Internet anymore; we brought the debate to the streets.. a debate about how this government is mismanaging a lot of our institutions, about how it uses our tax money to heavily subsidize private companies while at the same time increasing our taxes; about how the corruption has destroyed any moral authority it once had. It is not a student strike anymore. It is the story of a population that is sick of receiving nothing but tax increases, with oversight and incompetency from this government in return. We want change. Now.

Daniel Guillemette

We have the lowest tuition fees across Canada but also the highest taxes. The rise of tuition fees is part of a bigger austerity plan for the majority of the population, aiming to allow bankers and corporations (the owners of our government) to maintain their profit rates. ..Mass media have failed to demonize the protesters partly because of the social networks, and mostly because a critical mass of conscious people have been reached. We are determined to end the corruption that is present in our current center-right government (Parti Libéral Québécois), keeping in mind that the center-left government (Parti Québécois) also needs a cleanup, so voting for them to keep the tuition fees as they are now wouldn't fix the real problem: We are being robbed, like most of the citizens of the planet, by bankers and corporations. The national debt is a fraud. The politicians either benefit from this money leak or have no real power about it.

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