The Quebec government wishes to increase tuition fees for university students. At first, students protested in a manner that did not cause a public disturbance. But matters have changed. On Thursday, May 10, 2012, students released fumes into the Montreal subway system, thereby all but paralyzing the city.
I must tell you how disappointed I am.
The “suspects” have been identified. They are students. But I believe they are being used by a group of Quebec citizens, once called séparatistes but renamed indépendantistes, who seem to have made it their duty to blame anglophones for whatever they perceive as a societal ill. They peddle ill-conceived hatred.
The Tuition Fees
For reasons I cannot understand, university tuition fees in Quebec have long been the lowest in Canada. No government can support its universities unless there is proper funding, part of which comes from tuition fees.
If indeed Monsieur Charest, the premier, and his government impose an increase in tuition fees, Quebec students will be paying what students pay in other provinces, except that Quebec has yet to sign the constitution and, unlike other provinces, is tied to Britain.
For the last few weeks, we have been exploring the history of New France and have examined the fate of French-speaking colonists after Nouvelle-France was ceded to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. In 1763, France chose to keep Guadeloupe rather than New France.
The Quebec Act (1744)
It could be that it was in the best interest of England to ensure the loyalty of its French-speaking Quebec subjects. The Thirteen Colonies were threatening to declare their independence from Britain. But, whatever the motivation, the fact remains that, in 1774, French-speaking Canadians were made into full-fledged British subjects and were given a voice in Parliament.
It would be my view that, once again, congenital malcontents who love finding fault with anglophones so they can play martyrs are in the background fuelling the fire. If this is not the case, I apologize. Canadians respect Québec and French-Canadians and the decision to increase tuition fees does not justify malfeasance. This cannot be about raising tuition fees.
As a French-Canadian, born in Quebec, but who lived in English-speaking milieux for most of her life, I never experienced enmity on the basis of my ethnic origins. I was loved and, until recently, given every opportunity to succeed.
So, will all due respect, it would be my view that the anglophones are being made into scapegoats. Besides, the current problem is the students dissatisfaction over an increase in tuition fees. It is not a linguistic issue. This is a blatant case of misdirected anger: anger at anglophones.
French-speaking Québécois are not facing threats. There is no enemy. Quebec has duly elected representatives in Parliament which gives Québécois a voice in the public place. Releasing fumes into the Montreal subway was an immature, irresponsible, and criminal act. Just in case the students do not know, the world is watching and it does not like what it is seeing.
The thought that students may find themselves in jail and may never be able to enter into a profession or find employment saddens me. But I believe they were guided into breaking the law.
Good citizens abide by the law of the land, especially when there is nothing wrong with the law of the land.