One of Quebec’s three biggest student groups is championing the idea of free university education, now that tuition hikes are officially off the table.
Several hundred people supporting that cause took part in a rally and march on Saturday in Montreal — a regular occurrence on the 22nd of each month since the start of the Quebec student crisis in the winter.
The march started in Park Lafontaine and headed down Berri Street, then west through downtown. It was over by 4:30 p.m. ET.
The more vocal student group CLASSE says free education is entirely achievable, a position that isn’t promoted by the province’s two other groups, the federation of college students, or FECQ, and federation of university students, FEUQ.
Now that the province’s new Parti Québécois government has scrapped the increase in post-secondary tuition fees that prompted widespread protests and a student strike against the previous Liberal government, CLASSE is proposing free education altogether as a long-term goal.
Quebec currently has the lowest tuition the country for students who come from the province. Students from elsewhere in Canada pay more than double the amount though.
The new PQ government has said it favours indexing tuition to inflation.
At least 20 countries in Europe charge no or only nominal fees for post-secondary education, including countries like France, the Netherlands and Sweden, where university tuition is free.
Montreal police reported two arrests, saying projectiles were launched in Saturday’s demonstration. An officer suffered a knee injury, police said. Police also used pepper spray on some people in the protest.