Over the next couple of weeks I have the pleasure of visiting the beautiful city of Montreal, Quebec. I’m teaching a course on Christian ethics and contemporary culture at Farel Reformed Theological Seminary, located in the heart of downtown Montreal. Ahead of my time here I had attempted to at least superficially familiarize myself with some of the recent local news.
One of the stories that has dominated news, not just in Quebec and Canada but has even received coverage more broadly, are the student strikes in Quebec. The Canadian think tank Cardus has helped me to keep abreast of some of the developments. Today, Cardus’ Peter Stockland wrote,
This is a province in the grip of reactionary progressives afflicted with severe intellectual and institutional sclerosis. Their malaise prevents any proposals for change from being given fair hearing, much less a chance of being put into play. Real change, not merely revolutionary play-acting, is anathema in this province.
Stockland is writing within the context of the 100th day of the student strike over “modestly higher annual tuition fees” at the college level in Quebec. This is, of course, an enormously complex phenomenon with important history and local context that I could not hope to understand from skimming a few headlines and visiting here for a couple of weeks.
When seeing a story like this, for instance, in which protesters broke up classes after which “professors fled,” you have to take into account that there are student unions that authorized a strike. This certainly does not legitimize violent behavior or intimidation, what Stockland calls “violent, bully boy tactics.”
But I did have a chance to see some of the protests firsthand today, which were perfectly timed by the students to disrupt the city’s rush hour traffic this afternoon. They were essentially marching around a number of city block preventing cars from moving.
And over at the Acton Institute PowerBlog, I do take the liberty of musing on whether striking over the cost of higher education is the inevitable end of the logic of the welfare state.