Friday, May 18, 2012

We'd Be Bogus, Too

The key quote from Fast Times at Ridgemont High comes to mind today.  Why? Because the Quebec government's response to the tuition protests, well, are bogus, too.

As I have made clear here repeatedly, I am no fan of the tuition protests or the tactics of the various groups.  The key challenge of late has been the willingness of protestors to ignore injunctions and the lack of willingness of the police to enforce the injunctions.

But the new law seems to suck on multiple grounds.  First, it suspends the school year, which is pretty much what the protestors have been doing themselves.  Is this giving them what they want?  I think just cancelling the semester might have been more powerful--it would have imposed a financial cost.  Still, any response needs to take quite seriously that there are plenty of students who would prefer to get an education this spring but have been denied.  Maybe they voted for the non-strike/non-boycott (I really need a term to cover a situation where folks buy a service and then refuse to consume it) because they believed in it, but have changed their minds now that the costs have increased; maybe some felt coerced since many of the votes were by shows of hands (not secret ballots); maybe some didn't show up to vote because they were not mobilized/radicalized or just lacked the imagination to see what was going to take place this spring.

Second, the law overreaches.  You do not need to deny various basic rights to address this problem.  Just enforce the damn injunctions. Maybe increase the penalties for blocking access to schools, roads, etc, but put the onus on the protestors--let them protest anywhere but in places that disrupt life too much--roads, schools.  Free speech in parks should be fine.  The law also ignores one of the basic problems in this particular outbreak of dissent and in most of them--there is no unity of command.  No one is really responsible, unlike, say Charest is for the government.  So, how do you hold an organization responsible when individuals throw smoke bombs into the metro?  Unless you can prove it is an organized event (and there are probably laws on the books on this, right), you cannot punish an organization for crazy stuff in the streets.

While we can expect the student leaders to be immature and ignorant of what their responsibilities are (with some power comes some responsibility), we should expect more of the government.  But I have lived in Quebec too long to have much in the way of expectations for good governance in Quebec.

Update: Jacob Levy addresses the law and the events of the past 14 weeks here.   It may be the longest paragraph he has ever written.  Perhaps even spoken!

1 comment:

Aisha said...

I liked this post very much.

And I am very happy for you that you are moving to Ontario. Ontario is very civilized.