Sunday, May 27, 2012

Re-thinking Bill 78

When it was first announced, I was pretty horrified by Bill 78.  It seemed to be an overreaction, self-defeating and oppressive.  Well, two out of three ain't good, but not as horrible as I originally thought.  As others have argued, the really objectionable part of this are the fines that can be levied against people and organizations that may not have any real ties to the particular crime du jour.  Notification of protests is not an onerous requirement. Keeping protesters a bit further away from schools is not very problematic. 

Yes, Quebec continues to push me to the right wing, I suppose.  But I am joining the majority of Quebec and the majority of Canada in that.  Surveys show that Quebeckers support most of the elements of Bill 78, but the entire package is not supported.  Why?  Partly the fines and partly the spin.

All I know is that I am not a big fan of the movement's smallest or grandest concerns.  I support tuition increases, not just because of my own pocket (well, not that either since I am leaving) but due to my concerns about the funding of Quebec universities.  I certainly am not a fan of the folks who seek to overthrow capitalism and neo-liberalism (whatever that is). 

So, my objections to Bill 78 are not moral ones but political ones--that Charest's moves here were done so badly that they created far more support for groups that had been alienating nearly everyone, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Bill 78 did more to unify a bunch of folks with disparate motivates.  Divide and conquer would have been my choice of strategy.  The government tried that earlier with the negotiations.  Submitting to a mediator would have been an even better step in that direction--as long as a tuition freeze was off the table.  Now, at least one of the student groups is talking about the pace and magnitude of increases, rather  than seeking a freeze and then cuts.  Bring it on--the negotiations that is.  This should split the movement, which is a good thing since CLASSE, the more extreme student group, is most ironically titled--they lack class and seem not to be interested in classes.

I would spend more time researching and linking for this post, but I have work to do.  But for some really thoughtful stuff, check out this post by Jacob Levy.

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