Understanding the Student Demonstrations in Quebec

JacquesThe rest of Canada was slow to pick up on the student demonstrations in Montreal. There have been nightly parades, demonstrations and rallies for over one hundred days straight. Usually they involve tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands. However as these spread to other parts of Quebec and beyond students the rest of Canada and perhaps the world began to take notice.

Still the mystery remains. Is it a variation on the Occupy movement? Are there links to Quebec nationalism? Why are they upset when their tuition fees are so low?

Quebec is an oasis of low tuition fees in North America. The rest of us simply assume we should pay even though we know our children are graduating with huge debt loads.  The one person we thought to ask is Jacques Dufresne the noted Quebec philosopher, social entrepreneur and friend. L'Arche Canada got there first. In the current edition of, A Human Future editor Beth Porter carries a feature length interview with the man affectionately referred to as the Socrates of Quebec.

Here are some excerpts from Beth Porter's excellent interview with Jacques: Understanding Quebec: What Other Canadians Should Know

But Quebec students remember that their grandfathers at the end of the 50s, in the Quiet Revolution, chose a social democratic state where education would be free.

The students remind all of us, not only the government, that something else is possible. I like that because it is a sign of life.

These students are bright, know what they want, and are not at all spoiled, as some people say. Many cannot find a regular job, but they continue to dream of real sustainable development.

Jacques ends with some provocative comments about redressing the imbalance between the resources we allocate to younger versus older people.

I hope we will find ways, formal or informal, to talk about what has happened and to raise the real issues. For instance, let’s take advantage of the situation to establish a better balance between services for the young and services for the old.

Read the whole interview here or Download Understanding Quebec

Related Links:

Jacques Dufresne – Totalitarian Ignorance

Jacques Dufresne – What Am I Skating Towards? The Hill of Life

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