Canada’s largest union is standing firmly in support of Quebec students in their fight against raising tuition fees and the blatant attacks on the basic rights to protest and free assembly in the province.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is reiterating its call for the Charest government to reverse the disturbing anti-democratic measures imposed by Special Bill 78, and stop impeding Quebec students and their supporters from exercising their fundamental freedom to assemble and protest.
“It is unconscionable for the Quebec government to continue violating basic rights to squelch criticism of austerity measures aimed at post-secondary students,” says Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. “Quebec students have a right to stand up against crushing student debt loads, and to protest for a society where post-secondary education is a possibility for all people, not just the rich. CUPE continues to stand in solidarity with all Quebecers and all Canadians opposed to Special Bill 78.”
Special Bill 78 puts drastic and undemocratic limits on the rights to peaceful assembly. It gives sweeping powers to police to limit and control protest of over 50 people, threatens funding to student associations participating in protests, and allows for excessive fines for protest organizers and supporters (up to $70,000 for individuals, $250,000 for student organizations). The law - enacted in May – also makes it easier to sue students associations, and makes them liable for damage caused by other parties in a demonstration.
In support of the students standing up against this law, CUPE National has donated $10,000 – split equally between the provinces three major student associations. Moist and Charles Fleury, national secretary-treasurer of CUPE, are encouraging CUPE locals to make their own donations, and support the three associations equally in their common struggle.
“Special Bill 78 is a gross violation of rights of students, and on the rights of CUPE members who want to stand beside them in the protests against raising tuition fees,” says Fleury. “We are extremely proud of the support CUPE members from across the country have shown for these students, and we will keep that support up until their voices are heard, and their rights are once again respected by the Quebec government.”
CUPE locals wishing to make donations can make them directly to:
FEUQ - Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec
15 Marie-Anne West, 2nd floor
FECQ - Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec
2003 St-Hubert Street
CLASSE (ASSÉ) - Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante
2065 Parthenais Street, local 383
For more information:
Quebec’s legislature has passed an emergency anti-protest law that the chair of the Quebec bar association calls “a breach to the fundamental, constitutional rights” of its citizens. Read the Bill.
Visit quebectuitionfees.ca to learn more about tuition fees, and the risk increases have on the accessibility of post-secondary education.
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