Today Bill 78 is getting challenged in a Quebec court room. Bill 78, also known in pure 1984 doublespeak as “An Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend,” is an emergency law passed on 18 May 2012 by the National Assembly of Quebec. The law restricts freedom of assembly, protest, or picketing on or near university grounds, and anywhere in Quebec without prior police (state) approval. Bill 78 was drafted by members of the Quebec Liberal Party, introduced by Education Minister Michelle Courchesne, and passed with the support of the Coalition Avenir Québec party in response to ongoing student protests over proposed tuition increases.
The Quebec Human Rights Commission has rightfully condemned the legislation and the Canadian Association of University Teachers has condemned the law for “violating fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, and expression”, its president calling it “a terrible act of mass repression.”
Louis Masson, head of the Bar of Quebec has questioned the constitutionality of the law while a Laval law professor stated, “Read it. Stunned. Can’t believe that a democratic government can adopt such a law.”
Bill 78 is something I’d expect in a dictatorship state like Syria. To see politicians in Canada stand behind something like this is troubling to say the least. No one should be required to have state approval before speaking out or protesting. What we really need is a Bill to get rid of governments that would dare to enact such a law and one that will disqualify any politician from running for public office in the future if they support it. Don’t they take an oath swearing to protect these freedoms?
There’s a petition here.
- Quebec student leaders say province budging on tuition (cbc.ca)
- How a student uprising is reshaping Quebec (cbc.ca)
- Quebec government under pressure as Canada’s ‘casseroles protests’ expand (guardian.co.uk)
- Quebec student protests: students, government to resume negotiations day after 84 arrested (canada.com)