Organizers prepare for massive student protest
Published Wednesday, March 21, 2012 6:55PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 7:48AM EDT
MONTREAL - Montreal's two English school boards are urging parents to keep their children away from a large student protest planned for March 22.
In a mail-out to parents, the English Montreal School Board warned that high school students were being asked to participate in the National Day of Action protest by the university and CEGEP student federations.
"Any absences without a parent's permission on March 22 could be penalized by a suspension for a student involved," warned the EMSB.
Among the groups courting students is the Federation etudiante collegiale du Quebec, an assembly representing nearly all CEGEP students. The FECQ has argued that high school students yet to enter university will be "impacted most" by the Charest government's plan to nearly double tuition by 2017.
"What we found is that one-third of families that earn between $30,000 and $60,000 don't contribute to a student's studies, not because they want to, but because they don't have the financial means right now to help their children," said Leo Bureau-Blouin, president of the FECQ.
"What will happen if we hike tuition fees?"
At least 30,000 students are expected at the National Day of Action protest. The students will meet at Place du Canada at around 1:00 p.m. on Thursday and are expected to march on a serpentine route through downtown Montreal for five hours, ending in the Old Port near the Montreal Science Centre.
If the Charest government is unwilling to meet with students after the massive demonstration, students promise that the protests will become more disruptive. The government's current unwillingness to speak with student leaders is unprecedented.
"The government's position is always that they are not going to back down," said Lex Gill, president of the Concordia Student Union. "The reality is that historically, they always have."
Speaking to the press, Education Minister Line Beauchamp wasn't backing down, "The decision has been taken."
Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois called the government's position "irresponsible."
Every Wednesday, students from one faculty at UQAM pick public spaces and monuments to decorate in red: the colour of the student movement.
Students from UAQM's urban planning department went out very early this morning, hitting three sites: Place Etienne Cartier on Mount Royal, Place D'Armes and Place Jacques Cartier across from city hall.
The tactic is dubbed "Red Wednesday."
While the government won't talk with students, ads will
Meanwhile, the Quebec government has revealed that it will spend $200,000 on a new radio campaign about the government's loans program. Running since March 14, the radio campaign will end in mid-April.
In November, the government revealed that it had spent $50,000 to purchase Google keywords. The deal allowed for the Quebec ministry of education to advertise a pro-hike government website whenever someone searched for a Quebec student federation or information about the student protests.