Tag Archives: tuition

A proposal for the tuition debate

Gasoline prices

  • Colombia: $1.91
  • Tokyo: $1.83
  • Sydney: $1.50
  • Yellowknife: $1.49
  • Johannesburg: $1.40
  • London: $2.14
  • Stockholm: $2.18
  • Amsterdam: $2.37
  • Montreal: $1.39

Source: Globe and Mail, 2011

I don’t take a strong position for or against the tuition battle in Quebec. I think the issue is far more complex than either side is willing to admit. But the argument that Quebec students should shut up because their tuition is the lowest in Canada just bugs me, because it implies that accessibility to education should be just good enough, relative to other places. (And, of course, there are plenty of places in the world where tuition is a lot less than Quebec.)

So I propose a deal: Left-wing commie students will stop complaining about the cost of their tuition when right-wing redneck drivers stop complaining about gas prices.

It won’t happen, of course. People love to complain about the cost they have to pay for things.

Screaming matches are not interviews

A memo to Jean-Luc Mongrain:

Acting like Bill O’Reilly doesn’t make you a better interviewer. When you invite a leader of the student protest movement on your show and yell at him like a madman, it doesn’t make people agree with your position more. In fact, people already agree with your position that protesters provoke police and that the tuition hikes are modest and don’t necessitate this kind of response.

So why are you yelling like a baby who thinks nobody is listening to him? You invited the guy on your show to speak his mind. At least let him speak.


Mongrain Clenche Porte Parole Etudiant 50 Dollar
Uploaded by mediawatchqc

UPDATE (Nov. 19): Mongrain’s contract expires next spring, and he doesn’t seem worried about his future.

UPDATE (Nov. 20): via Patrick Lagacé comes this example of classic Mongrain:

The tuition debate is over

As if to deliberately underscore how chaotic and disorganized the student activist movement is, two separate, competing protests are being organized over the next two weeks concerning tuition and accessibility of higher education.

The first, by the CEGEP-heavy, highly militant unlimited-strike-at-the-tip-of-a-hat ASSÉ, is this Thursday afternoon. (The event’s tagline is telling: “Parce que la lutte continue, tabarnak !!!”)

The second, by the bigger-budget, more organized PR-savvy FEUQ, is the following Thursday.

The reason behind the two protests is nothing more complicated than the two groups engaging in a pissing contest with each other. Rather than put aside their differences and come together, student groups prefer to fight and sue each other.

But even if this wasn’t the case, the protest is pointless for one simple reason: They’ve already lost the battle.

In the last provincial election, Liberal leader Jean Charest made it abundantly clear he intended to unfreeze tuition and raise it by a small amount. ADQ leader Mario Dumont even wanted to go further. Those two parties took over 2/3 of the seats in the National Assembly.

The public, meanwhile, made it very clear that keeping Quebec’s tuition the lowest in Canada is not their top priority. Even some students think our tuition is too low, and would prefer to see more student money go into the education system.

These protests (and the laughable “unlimited general strike”, which hurts no one but the few students participating in it) are organized on the assumption that the public supports them. But it doesn’t. And tying up downtown traffic so that some hippies can yell how $200 a course is too much to pay for university education isn’t going to help their cause at all. It will just piss people off and make them think that these students have far too much free time on their hands that they could be spending earning money to lessen their tuition load.

The tuition debate is over as far as the government is concerned. If you’re going to try to revolutionize the way Quebec finances post-secondary education, you have to convince the voters to think like you. That means a big, honest education campaign, not a protest.

And don’t hold your breath expecting attitudes to change overnight.