TORONTO, May 25, 2012 /CNW/ - With the massive protest on Tuesday from Quebec students and their many allies against an increase of 75% in tuition fees over the next 5 years and the oppressive Bill 78, the Charest government has shocked and appalled student organizations across the country. The Bill which has put in place restrictions for gatherings of ten or more individuals, level overwrought fines for dissent and several other regressive measures which threaten the freedom of expression of citizens across the province. The reaction from one local student union, the Graduate Students' Union at the University of Toronto, has been one of disdain, yet also familiarity.
"Bill 78 and the actions leading to it by the Charest government in Quebec are the chief and most egregious examples of a wider repression of student organizing in this country," stated Erin Oldynski, External Commissioner of the Union, "and we feel this legislation sets a grim precedent for all acts of dissent across this country".
The Graduate Students' Union is no stranger to anti-democratic acts against protestors and dissenters, its members having been the target of "unlawful" arrests and action during the G20 in Toronto in June 2010. Oldynski stated, "As a student union whose members were among those once under the threat of unlawful and shadowy action by multiple levels of government and law-enforcement, we cannot stand in silence as our brothers and sisters in Quebec are subjected to the anti-democratic aims of the Charest government."
However, with Tuesday's protest in Montreal with a half million participants and the solidarity protests which occurred from Toronto to Paris, the Graduate Students' Union sees the turning of the tides in the favour of students, according to Oldynski, "We saw the hope and fury of the people of Quebec coalesce around students and against the measures of Jean Charest. His government's mandate to raise tuition has vanished and the effectiveness of the oppressive Bill 78 has been shattered by the people of Quebec. We can only hope this show of solidarity will have awoken the Charest government to the rights of its students and of all Quebecers".
On March 28th, the General Council of the Union voted strongly to endorse the Quebec Student Strike and its aims against the massive increase in tuition in the province - as well as urging the government to seriously work towards the resolution of this matter.
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