In Montreal, 400,000 March to Protest New Law that Stifles Dissent
Bill 78, a new law enacted in Quebec, imposes draconian penalties for exercising free speech.
The people's anger erupts aghainst the rulers of Quebec
The provincial government of Quebec on May 18th, passed a law called Bill 78, which essentially makes it illegal to demonstrate grievances against the government. For demonstrations consisting of more than fifty people, permits must be obtained (which are always refused) and those arrested in defiance of the law can be fined up to 250,000 dollars. This law was passed in response to the governments announcement that tuition fees at the province's public colleges and universities would be hiked 375 dollars a year for the next five years, a 75 percent increase over the present fees.
This egregious assault on the civil liberties of students has drawn widespread support from people of all walks of life who have joined them in the streets, and on Saturday, May 26th, up to 400,000 people marched in solidarity with the students. Large demonstrations also erupted in other cities all across Quebec.
The police response was brutal, and almost a thousand people were arrested, although there is no evidence of violence occurring on any of the videos thus far seen.
The outpouring of dissent this past Saturday was by far the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. What the students are facing has struck a chord in the collective psyche of Canada's people from Halifax to Vancouver, and there is now a real question regarding the legitimacy of the government, which is pushing through austerity measures that the majority of the population steadfastly oppose. A very broad-based social movement, which includes seniors, families, children and others, is coalescing around the student strike as a result of the passage of Bill 78.
In the video below, a student organizer and a professor talk about the strike and its aims on Democracy Now: