News ID: 8511
Publish Date: 11 June 2012 - 11:10
Thousands of Canadian students, who have continued four months of protests over tuition fee hikes, are now getting a boost from labor unions and teachers.
The involvement of labor unions and teachers in the student protests has widened demands and comes directly after Quebec's government signed Law 78 that restricts the ability to protest. These organizations see the government's actions as a violation of the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, Rohama reported according to Press TV. 

Press TV has interviewed Anna Lekas Miller, a freelance journalist and activist in New York about the expansion of protests in Quebec and how this movement affects or relates to the US. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview. 

Press TV: Speaking about the US, you are living in New York, you have been active in the anti-Wall Street protests there. We know that America's total student loan debt now tops credit card debt at over one trillion dollars. 

And also tuition fees at the University of California in Berkeley, as an example, has ballooned from a little over 8,300 dollars in 2009-10 to about 13,000 dollars we're hearing in 2011-12 for interstates students. 

And there are people in the US saying now that American students need to copy Canada's tuition protest. Do you agree? 

Miller: I definitely agree that students in the US need to copy Canadian protests. I think one of the things fundamentally different about the Canadian protests I've noticed and with protests in general is that protesting is a way of accountability and even one little tuition hike attracts huge protests. 

Here in the US we have to be pushed to the brink; we have to be in a state of crisis... After 2008, we didn't even have protests in 2008, we had protests three or four years later in 2011, 2012 once these effects just haven't gone away and we're facing a triple-dip recession that's affecting absolutely everyone, workers and normal people. 

I do think it's going to mean so much more for us because we face such a plethora of forces that are really constricting our rights to education… so I do think it's a time for accountability, it's a time for celebrating, it's a time to see if the protests that are working to create publicity and get more people on board in Quebec could also work in America if things were adapted to our culture. 

Press TV: Let's get to the question of how far-reaching the demands of these demonstrators or protesters have become now. Besides students, of course you know, the protests include anti-capitalist groups. 

For instance, today reports we've seen, they are calling the Grand Prix race an elitist event, so do you think this is in aftermath of the anti-capitalist ideas of the Occupy movement that originated in the US? In other words, how serious do you think that movement has become in Canada? 

Miller: I think they're definitely related, but that the ant-capitalist movement did not originate in the US - it's part of a string of movements that started with the infiltrations of neo-liberalism throughout the world. 

I think this protest in Canada is definitely something that is protesting neo-liberalism as a broad idea and not just about this small tuition hike. 

And now especially with the Law 78 curtailing rights so much and being something that is so draconian and frightening in Canada, people are really starting to assess their rights; asses what's angering them; assess what's clamping down on their societies in terms of neo-liberal reform and that's bringing more and more people into the streets in solidarity and seeing themselves in the process, seeing themselves in the struggle and showing up to demonstrate for change. 

Press TV: How do you think the US role is playing out here; and do you think there is a relation between the state of the economy in the US and Canada, not just the economy, but also speaking politically? 

Miller: I'm not sure about the state of the economy in the US as relating to Canada. I do know about economic policy relating to the US and Canada and I do believe that there are these cultural trends that are now global going towards neo-liberalism, going towards policies. 

It creates these extreme income inequalities that make life so much harder for students for workers for common people who are used to having a certain way of getting by and then that way of getting by becomes so much more expensive as different services become more and more privatized. 

And normal things that should be human rights like education and healthcare are now so expensive and out of access for more and more people. So that's how it is that they're most related. 


Source: Rohama
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