Professors in Quebec are asking for signatures from professors outside Quebec on the petition below; as the guest-post following says, “International solidarity is important in trying to get as much attention to what is going on as we can. For us, just signing this kind of letter could be deemed illegal! (Fortunately, for those not living in Quebec, Quebec law does not extend outside its jurisdiction…)”
But what are you signing, and why? Prof. Alia Al-Saji (McGill) explains:
A general student strike has been going on in Quebec since mid-February. This strike involves college and university students. At its peak, over half of Quebec’s post-secondary students were on strike; currently about 150,000 students are still on strike. What was at stake was a 75% hike in tuition fees over five years to be implemented this fall by the Quebec government, part of a general policy to impose “user-fees” and privatize public services.
In May, the Quebec government passed a “special law” (Bill 78, now Law 12) to suspend the session and effectively lock out striking students, rescheduling the remainder of the session for August. This law includes draconian measures that criminalize protest and picketing and that levy severe fines on anyone who by “act” or “omission” impedes or slows down the resumption of classes in August. Fines promised in the law effectively end student associations that choose to continue the strike, and for those that do not “use appropriate means” to induce their members to obey the law. The law renders illegal all demonstrations of 50 or more people that have not provided their itinerary to the authorities eight hours in advance. This law has led to massive public outcry and a wave of civil disobedience in Quebec. Though the Quebec Human Rights Commission recently found the law to contravene the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the government has refused to abrogate the law.
For professors who teach in striking institutions, the impact of the law is chilling. Not only are we open to fines if we refuse to teach under these conditions ($1000-$5000 per day), but we are also unable to freely voice our support for the student strike lest this be construed as inducing someone to commit an offense under this law (for which we would be held equally liable).
Faced with these conditions, some Quebec instructors have launched an international call for solidarity from professors outside Quebec. They have written a manifesto that they invite you to sign. To sign the manifesto, please send your name and school affiliation to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Manifesto in English: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3lTHAjqihRqcjByeG51Zi1Qcms/edit
Manifeste en Français: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3lTHAjqihRqXzVybXUzbWRXUjA/edit
Manifiesto en Espanol: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3lTHAjqihRqVzUyU2VqYkx0MGM/edit