MONTREAL—2012 might be remembered as the year that Quebec faced chaos and aired its dirty laundry.

In the dead of winter, the province heated up as students defied the Charest government and brought the metropolis to a stand-still over planned tuition hikes.

“When we will have what we will want, we will go back to school because that is where we want to be,” said one protester, during a day where tens of thousands of students marched through Montreal.

Despite emergency legislation and a vow from Premier Jean Charest that the province would not yield to the “intimidation and violence of the streets,” the Liberal government lost power in Quebec’s September election. The tuition fee increases were cancelled.

Over 4,000 protesters were arrested and a dozen suffered serious injuries, most notably 22-year-old Francis Grenier who was injured in the right eye by what is believed to have been a police stun grenade.

In May, a harried Quebec press corps also covered the story of Luka Rocco Magnotta, a small-time pornographic actor who dismembered Chinese exchange student Lin Jun. After a global manhunt, Magnotta was arrested on June 4 in Berlin.

In the weeks following the downfall of Premier Jean Charest and his replacement by a Parti Quebecois government headed by Pauline Marois, Quebec was once again shaken by brazen testimony at the Charbonneau Commission.

In a province often called the most corrupt in Canada, the levels of dishonesty and fraud uncovered in Montreal’s municipal bureaucracy and city halls across the province brought about a wave of police raids and resignations that have yet to be fully absorbed by Quebecers.

“The trust I had in some was inevitably betrayed, I accept full responsibility,” said a shaken Mayor Gerald Tremblay as he resigned.

New taxes to ring in the New Year

After the party on New Year’s Eve, reality sets in on Jan. 1 with higher taxes, fees and new regulations ringing into effect.

  • Starting at midnight, income taxes go up for people making over a $100,000 a year, with the marginal tax rate increasing from 48.22 per cent to 49.97 per cent.
  • For those making more than $130,000 the provincial health tax rises from $200 a year to $1,000.
  • Canada’s first carbon market becomes active in Quebec, as firms emitting over 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases will need to declare them to the government.
  • The increase in Quebec’s pension payments will be indexed at 1.8 per cent and capped at $1,012.50 a month for those who retire at 65.
  • Monthly bus and metro passes will increase by $1.50 to $77.
  • The maximum contribution a Quebecer can give a political party is now $100, instead of $1,000.
  • For those Canadians looking to travel, the cost of a passport will increase from $87 to $120.

The hashtags of 2012

For those Quebecers on Twitter, 2012 also saw a number of hashtags that became inseparable from the stories they were associated with. Some will continue into 2013, but these are the three that ruled the Twittersphere in 2012:

  • #GGI: The general unlimited student strike hashtag was used as short-hand for Quebec's student protests everywhere from conversation to magazines articles, despite being an erroneous descriptor for many of the protesters.
  • #CEIC: The Charbonneau Commission, Quebec’s anti-corruption inquiry.
  • #QC2012: The general hashtag for Quebec’s 34-day electoral campaign in 2012. A number of other hashtags were used for political parties or causes.