For weeks, I've been watching 20 somethings lined up along the Metro station walls all dressed in red, hands on hips and staring straight ahead. I only realized last week that this was part of their protest.
Although tuition fees in Quebec cost a fraction what they do in the rest of Canada and in the United States, as you can see from the picture above, students will be paying three to four times what the government leader and his education minister paid for a post-secondary education. While many people think the students should suck it up, many more see the protest as a sign that our corporate-owned governments have gone too far in the last decade, and it's the students who are finally standing up and saying, "Enough!"
The university students have been on strike for six weeks, and they were joined this week by high school students, who are the next in line to suffer tuition increases. The demonstrators chose red to symbolize their future indebtedness. Today, students leaving university with a degree are on average $35,000 in debt, hardly a way to start out your adult life, particularly when employment opportunities are so limited.
In Canada, education has long been seen as a vehicle for class mobility. But how can anyone hope for a better life saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. Many students have chosen to go part-time and work at the same time to stay out of debt. But now the race is on to finish university as fast as possible before tuition goes up even more.
There was no violence, looting or even littering on Thursday, but Charest's provincial government, which unveiled its budget this week, said nothing. Apparently, dialogue isn't even on the table.
Is this democracy?
See a great time-lapse by Andy Riga of the demonstration below: