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Jason Willems

Letter: protesters deserve a seat at the children’s table

During social gatherings it's fairly common for guests to be separated into two groups: a children’s' table and an adult’s table. The tables are separate because there is essentially no overlap in conversation - which is at entirely different levels - between the groups. Children aren't being punished by where they've been placed, but both conversations are more productive when separated; so it's to their mutual benefit.Then, as children mature, they are invited to join the adult’s table. However, if children begin to throw a fit as a means to express their desire to sit with the adults, it tends to be seen as an indication that it isn't a place that they're ready to be. In other words, the table they sit at is a direct product of their behaviour – protestors take note.It would be ridiculous for us to lament over the children’s table for simplifying issues to the point that they're no longer useful. If the adults are doing it, it may be worthy of some attention – but typically it's precisely this kind of behaviour that defines which table one will sit at. The protestors should not be discouraged from possessing a passion for their cause, yet their actions seem to be entirely regressive to it. It is precisely their behaviour as a means to secure a seat with the adults that makes a plurality of them ineligible (and thus their actual influence will never make it past those sitting around them. Their table is noticeably void of politicians and policy makers).Midnight protests to maximize public disturbance? Worthy of a seat at the kids' table. Blocking access to bridges maximize economic effects of the protest? Worthy of a seat at the kids' table. Destroying property to prove that if the government can afford the repairs, it can… Read More

Québec’s student leaders refuse to compromise

We can draw an interesting - if at first sight unlikely - comparison between Quebec Student Protest Leaders and the US Congress. Unlikely, because their ideologies are diametrically opposed. But similar in their unproductive unwillingness to compromise or stray even the slightest bit from their convictions.Not that compromise is always necessary: with respect to the gravest human rights violations, for instance, we should be absolute and unwavering in our convictions. But as much as the student leaders may justify their black-and-white approach to the issue by citing accessible education as a human right, their overarching vision is far too grandiose and simplistic. The tuition debate is not a simple one: it is inseparable from the realities of the provincial government’s finances, and accessibility to education is far more complicated than a one variable problem involving only cost. Recently, student leaders have been posing more problems than solutions, and in many ways they risk becoming a regressive force for the cause they believe in. The government’s original position was to increase tuition by $325 a year for the next 5 years, while the student groups wished for the tuition freeze to continue. Since then, every attempt the government has made to meet them in the middle has been met with the rejection by student protestors of everything including their own original position, as the two sides continue to shift further apart.The most recent terms dictated by CLASSE, a group representing roughly half of the striking students, called for Quebec to eliminate tuition by 2016, enforce a blockade on satellite campuses and restrict the ability of universities to advertise in order to attract students. The vocal rhetoric regarding capitalism and “the 1%” is also becoming somewhat more intertwined with the battle over tuition increases as it continues to evolve.While the terms of the protestors have… Read More