The Canadian Press, in Globe and Mail, May 22, 2012
Out-of-province money is flowing toward Quebec student activists amid warnings their protest movement could persist into the summer.
Trade unions based outside Quebec have already confirmed sending more than $36,000 into the bank accounts of the province’s largest student federations.
Union leaders in the rest of Canada say they’re now asking their memberships to vote on new donations for the student groups.
In another gesture of support, several union delegations headed to Montreal for a large protest Tuesday, while sister events were scheduled in different cities inside and outside Canada, including New York and Paris.
The executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers said Tuesday that his union could approve a financial contribution for the students in the next day or two.
“We’re actively considering it,” said James Turk, whose association represents 66,000 teachers and other academic professionals across Canada.
It is not easy for those of us outside the province to comprehend all the subtle nuances of the situation in Quebec. However, if the labour movement in Canada is ready and willing to add more public scorn to an already weakened public image, then vote to send money to the protesting students.
While affordable access to post-secondary education is an important social value, and keeping tuition fees as low as possible is an integral component of that goal, protest in the face of facts that demonstrate Quebec already has the lowest tuition fees in the country, and lower than many other countries, and the university system in Quebec is in serious need of more sustainable funding, nevertheless, street protests without serious intent to resolve the dispute is a serious threat to the capacity of any government to govern.
Also while the recent law may have aspects of 'repression' and regretable clauses, comparable to the War Measures Act, there does not seem to be any sign that these protesters are interested in a negotiated, mediated or arbitrated settlement of the issues.
Political opponents of both the government and the federal state can and will drive their propaganda "truck" into the breach created by the protests and the impasse between the protesters and the government.
And, adding union funds to an already boiling pot will only enhance the opportunities forpolitical instability, unrest and deepening divide between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
Already, there are many voices, ordinary people, across the country, who speak about "letting Quebec go" for the simply reason that they have "had it up to here" with their threats to create a separate nation.
Union funds, even on a small scale, could easily be perceived and portrayed as supporting of other political steps beyond the tuition fee question, including separation.
Here is one vote, should I be in a position to be asked, that will oppose sending funds to the student protesters in Quebec. And I would urge as many as possible to reject any move to funnel union money into the streets, in protest of the government's attempt to adequately fund post secondary education in that province.