— by Jersey Joe
What with the rumored or alleged deal between the Quebec Government and the protesting students falling apart as I write, CTV News Noon, the question becomes where to from here?
Back in the early days of my teaching career I quickly came to learn one thing. If there was something going on in my classroom that I did not like, ignoring it, hoping it would stop, letting it go till it somehow wore itself out, was NOT an option. After three months of student unrest here in Quebec, it is time the Liberal government of Premier Jean Charest took time to take a lesson from the old teacher. That is, of course, if they do NOT like what has been going on. And it is time that they took some action to preserve the democratic rights of the most overlooked group in all of this- those students who want to go to school, finish their year and get on with their lives.
In 1972 when a Common Front Strike, which included the provinces teachers, went on for too long, the then Liberal Government of Robert Bourassa decreed the strike to an end and also imposed a contract on the groups involved. These same Liberals would lose the next election in historic fashion to the PQ in 1976. Lest anyone think this is a Liberal phenomenon, in 1983 the Parti Québécois government of René Lévesque forced the Common Front back to work, imposed the infamous 20-20 loss on the workers and wondered why it lost the next election. One can understand, then, why this Liberal government might hesitate to take similar action here. Nor does is seem feasible to legislate the students back to school, since the protesting ones have shown so little regard for law and/or order to date.
But what this government could, and should do, is to uphold the democratic rights of those students who want to go to school to do just that. Some judges have granted injunctions to students who want to return to class, only to have them ignored by protesters whose physical and sometimes menacing presence have kept them out of the buildings, by CEGEP administrators who fear reprisals if they use security forces or dare to ask police to enforce the law, and the Montreal police themselves who reportedly say that these entry blockers are doing no harm by just standing there. Implicit in this is that someone has to get hurt before any action can be taken. This defiance of the law and the court decisions have heretofore been ignored by the government whose job I have always thought it was to make and uphold both.
The Liberal government, the duly elected majority government of this province, has a duty to reopen the schools and make sure those who wish to finish this school year can do so. Decree a set date for the end to this school year and stick to it. Those who are boycotting insist it is their democratic right to protest, which they do. These actions would in no way restrict that right. But those who wish to go to school have an equal democratic right. These proposed actions would make it clear where all students stood on the issue. Remember, there really is only one issue –that of the legislated tuition hikes, which as of the last government attempt at negotiations has now been spread over seven years. Those who favor or accept the hikes, however reluctantly, could go back to class. Those who oppose can stay out and protest, one would hope in a more peaceful matter.
All the rest, from ‘free school’ to ‘student boards,’ to whatever else has been bandied about can be settled in an equally democratic manner in the next Quebec election. I dare either of the opposition parties to propose free education as a platform, especially if they dare delineate how they propose to pay for it, in that election. Better yet, maybe the boycotting students could spend their free time, which they apparently have enough of, to form their own party and get a real life lesson, one where hiding behind masks in not an option.
As the Green Marchers chanted last night, “Don’t listen to CLASSE–go back to class.”
It is time for the government to ‘grow a pair,’ or better yet as attributed to Betty White, ‘grow a vagina, cause it can take a pounding.’ You made the law, you support the law, now enforce the damn law.
— Just My Two Sense