Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I feel like wearing a red square

The little red square is the symbol of the student movement in Quebec. And, in case you haven't been following the news, there's been 100 days of student striking because of a fee hike.

At first, my reaction was "those Liberal Arts fellows are up to their usual antics" and I just ignored it. It kept on popping in the newspapers, and I would hear about a march every now and then, the usual.

I even felt that the way the students were denying access to universities and colleges in defiance of court orders was appalling, and was even thinking of wearing a green square, symbol of the students who support the fee hikes.

I liked that the student unions were protesting not only against the tuition fee hike, but also about wasteful university management. As a tax payer, I am always annoyed by the rampant mis-management of my money by a lot of government bodies, and the kind of blank cheque the government gives to universities (most of which are private non-profits in this province). Millions of dollars and no accountability... what could go wrong?

As I saw the government ignore the student demands, then bargain in bad faith, I started getting more and more angry. And as a draconian anti-protest law was voted urgently last Friday, I really got angry. Even the Bar association is calling the law unconstitutional, and they don't often speak up on legislation.

I am irritated that the premier and his ministers are so out of touch with reality that they just want to ignore the largest student movement in the history of the province and not try to compromise. This kind of arrogance will be paid very dearly in the upcoming polls.

Can I see potential for abuse? Oh ya. The police could just put agent provocateurs in the crowd, break a window, and get the whole march declared illegal, and then fine all the people in there. Or maybe they can use their power to change the march itinerary to change it while it is happening, and then declare it illegal and fine people. I am sure your imagination can come up with more scenarios for abuse.

What am I gonna do about it? I can't join a march because I don't want to be involved with the anarchists who break windows. The new law makes it nearly illegal to be in one of those marches, even if there are no anarchists. In theory, you could be fined thousands of dollars if you just get too close to a university building or if you deviate one step from the itinerary given to the police.

So, I signed the petition against the new law, and I'm blogging, asking you to also sign that petition.

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