Out-of-province unions donating thousands to Quebec student protesters

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

As the Quebec student tuition strike metastasizes into a larger social protest under the provincial government's ham-fisted legal crackdown, money is pouring in from elsewhere in Canada to support the movement.

The Canadian Press reported trade unions outside Quebec have sent $40,000 to the province's largest student federations to help pay for such things as buses to transport marchers and food for the demonstrators.

The protest marked its 100th day Tuesday with a massive march through downtown Montreal in defiance of the hurriedly passed law that demonstrations of more than 50 people required advance notice of the route, the Canadian Press reported.

Marches of solidarity took place Tuesday in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, New York and Paris.

As it has several other times, Montreal march deteriorated Tuesday night into clashes with police, with at least 100 arrests, according to a Canadian Press report.

Police declared the march illegal under the new law, Bill 78, after protesters threw projectiles at them.

Support from Quebec's unions has been crucial to the groups representing an estimated 150,000 striking students, contributing tens of thousands of dollars.

Donations from unions outside Quebec appear set to grow. The Canadian Association of University Teachers, with more than 68,000 members, announced Wednesday it will donate $20,000, QMI News Agency reported.

"We will call upon all our member associations to make a donation to the students' legal defence fund," the group said in a statement.

The association is also promising to support Quebec teachers who defy the provision in Bill 78 that bars teachers from protesting and orders them to report back to work in August, when the cancelled term is set to resume.

"For our members in Quebec, CAUT will assist in filing grievances about each aspect of Bill 78 that violates their collective agreement rights," the association said.

Its donation follows a decision by Local 3902 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing teaching assistants at the University of Toronto, to send $20,000 to CLASSE, the most militant of the three main Quebec student groups. The union local representing staff at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., also donated $10,000, according to QMI.

And CBC News reported Wednesday that the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council will vote at its next meeting whether to send a cheque. The council, an umbrella group for 25,000 union members, has already passed a resolution of support for the protest.

"They are standing up for accessible post-secondary education for everyone," said council president Kyle Buott.