Will Quebec-style student protests spread to Ontario?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty might want to start preparing himself for the pain that Jean Charest is now going through.

A petition has been launched by members of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) for an Ontario-wide strike vote this fall in order to show solidarity with the students in Quebec.

Here is their letter:

Support Quebec Students by Bringing the Movement to Ontario!

To our representatives at the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and affiliated student union locals,

We the undersigned are writing to the CFS as proud student unionists and activists, as well as workers and community members who support the student movement in Canada.

We write this letter asking that the CFS engage in a consistent and serious mobilizing effort to bring the Quebec student movement to the rest of Canada.

We believe that this is the best solidarity we can give our sisters and brothers in Quebec. We believe it is the obligation of the elected student leaders to build this movement, and we commit, as rank-and-file students, to support you.

After 12 weeks of strikes against massive tuition hikes, and facing massive police repression and brutality, the student movement in Quebec is forcing the government to budge. This is a heroic example.

We ask that the CFS begin mobilizing for a student strike in Ontario and the rest of Canada. A campaign of mass educationals, solidarity delegations and mass mobilizations should be used to lead up towards a student strike in Ontario. Bring the lessons of Quebec to Ontario.

Quebec has shown, again and again, that the only way to force concession from governments is to mobilize on a mass basis through a strike campaign and confront the government, not with postcards, but with action! Students and youth, as well as the working population in general, have been inspired by the Quebec movement.

We are therefore asking that our representatives at the CFS and affiliated locals immediately begin a campaign for free post-secondary education, and make preparations to carry out a strike ballot in the Fall of 2012.

A massive student movement in Ontario would show the Quebec students that they are not alone. It would strengthen the movement for free post-secondary education across Canada, and it would cut across the divisions created by the pro-business politicians and corporate press to weaken the student movement.

Our response to the race to the bottom; tuition fees across Canada should be immediately lowered to the levels in Quebec, as a step towards abolishing all tuition fees in the country.

Prepare for an Ontario-wide strike vote in the Fall of 2012!

Sandy Hudson, Chairperson of the Ontario CFS, says she's heard of the petition but has not yet received it.

"If were to receive the petition we don't have any set structure [of how a vote would proceed],"  she told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Students could vote but I would recommend the Quebec model where they had academic faculty votes and then a general assembly vote."

Hudson adds that her organization is "absolutely 100 per cent" in support of the Quebec student protesters.

"We're inspired by them," she says,

Meanwhile, members of Quebec's national assembly will spend much of Friday debating legislation aimed at ending the protests.

Bill 78 provides for fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for any individual who prevents someone from entering an educational institution.

The controversial legislation also lays out strict regulations governing student demonstrations, including having to give eight hours notice for details such as the itinerary, the duration and the time at which they are being held.