On the student boycott in Quebec

Here is a direct quote from The Nation:

A few weeks ago, the NY Times had a similar piece. Now when you read about a “brutal 75% increase in university tuition” would you understand that to mean an increase from about $2100 to $3800 per year? Implemented gradually over a seven year period? No, they are not mentioning that. This is pure propaganda masquerading as news. I wrote letters to the editors of the Times and also complained to the public editor. Both letters got ignored. Neither source mentioned that these boycotts were called after hand-showing votes (secret ballots were rejected) in meetings involving a few percent of the students. Nor did they mention that the students were barring the doors to prevent their confreres who wanted to continue in school from entering. They claim their collective rights trump the serious students’ individual rights to an education. Although there have been injunctions, the government has declined to enforce them. (My guess: they don’t trust the cops not to escalate the violence, but that is just my WAG.) The law of exception, while idiotic, hasn’t been enforced either.

Incidentally, colleges (= junior colleges in the American language) charge no tuition so a 75% increase is meaningless. The government claims the increases were to be accompanied by increases in student aid where necessary.

I live in downtown Montreal and have been following this so I’ll comment. The casseroles were out last night outside my house, btw. I don’t mind.

I’m not sure even the NYT is aware of this but there are deeper issues at work here. As an out of province (my home province is British Columbia, I moved ehre for university and stayed) student, do I feel a great outrage has been done? As someone who has paid higher tuition than Quebec students attending the same university at the same time as me, no, I don’t. It is, however, their right to protest and the thing a lot of people don’t know about is that part of the idea of modern Quebec was founded on a few implicit principles and beliefs. One was free or very close to free education. So there is that context - to an outsider or an American, Quebec tuition can seem laughably low, but it is something of an unwritten contract within Quebec culture that education would not be made into a paid service. Quebec is a much more philsophically left wing place than many who don’t live here realize.

I tried to argue this to my friends in Ontario but now I have a much more concise argument. Thanks!

Let me just add that when I came here in 1968, the tuition was $650 and what they want to raise it to (about $3700, but phased in over 7 years) is consistent with that, in constant dollars. They hadn’t increased in 15 or 20 years, so there was some catchup.

But my main point was that the “brutal” 75% increase was divorced from the context of how risibly low the tuition would seem to an American. And the NY Times, at least, has refused to print any corrective.


It’s a nifty rhetorical trick, isn’t it? Stating something which is, as stated, accurate, but which will lead to misunderstanding on the part of the intended audience. It is not a lie and the manipulation is deniable, yet it leads to a mistaken impression on the part of readers nearly as much as an outright lie would. There ought to be a name for it if there isn’t already.

That The Nation would pull something like this is par for the couse, ideologically committed papers will do their own thing. That the NYT does it is disappointing. I guess if the paper said the increase was from 2100 to 3800$, a lot of readers would just classify the protesters as a bunch of whiners, which wouldn’t make for much of a story.

As an American, I have troubles coming up with any sympathy.

As I’ve mentioned in a similar thread, the University of California, which I guess is a comparable public university, now has tuition at about $13,000 per year – for residents. Out of state tuition is $36,000. Of course, not everybody pays the full amount – there are grants and scholarships available. But still, the universities in Canada are on the whole incredibly cheap.

One of the three student groups behind the boycott has proposed eliminating all fees and paying for it by dropping all support for research in Quebec universities. I wonder if they realize that that means eliminating most or all graduate degrees. Certainly all in the sciences and, while some may remain in arts and the like, the professors won’t have the time to supervise them either.

Well, the federal government has been gradually letting inflation and budget cuts tamp down research spending, so maybe this is the future.

yes, they have the right to protest. but protesting doesn’t make them right.

Send in Dudley Do-Right, Sgt. Preston, and Inspector Clousseaux. They’ll set things back on track.:rolleyes:

Don’t forget the illegals that are getting in-state tuition rates.