One must love the government no matter what. At least this is the feeling one gets when they take a look at Quebec’s Bill 78 entitled An Act To Enable Students To Receive Instruction From The Postsecondary Institutions They Attend. Nowhere in Bill 78 is any real enabling of students to attend their respective schools, but instead it limits their right to protest against the provincial government.

If the students protest too much the school must inform the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports of why they cannot provide them with an education. Then the Students Union or Association offices and dues (money) will be taken away from them. Students may end up being responsible for any damages as a result of the protestors.

It came about as people were frustrated with the protests that held up traffic to and from work. Protests were sensationalized by the government and the media. Even though they were largely less destructive than some of the hockey riots you wouldn’t have known it. Feeling they were looking ineffective Quebec’s National Assembly overreacted.

While there are those who agree with the new law parts of it seemed to have slipped by Quebec voters. Section III of the bill deals with Provisions To Maintain Peace, Order and Public Security.

It states: “16. A person, a body or a group that is the organizer of a demonstration involving 50 people or more to take place in a venue accessible to the public must, not less than eight hours before the beginning of the demonstration, provide the following information in writing to the police force serving the territory where the demonstration is to take place:

(1) the date, time, duration and venue of the demonstration as well as its route, if applicable; and

(2) the means of transportation to be used for those purposes.

“When it considers that the planned venue or route poses serious risks for public security, the police force serving the territory where the demonstration is to take place may, before the demonstration, require a change of venue or route so as to maintain peace, order and public security. The organizer must then submit the new venue or route to the police force within the agreed time limit and inform the participants.”

This section does not mention students at all and could apply to any demonstration or protest. As such (and the entire law) can be considered an infringement of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It includes such fundamental freedoms (section 2), as the: freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and the freedom of association.

Even if this section only applies to the students it is still something we should all be concerned with. If one part of society can be denied their fundamental rights and freedoms then so can we all. Canada is considered a democratic society with socialist leanings, but this latest law does not honour that tradition. It is something we would have expected in the worst of communist, dictatorial or monarchical governments.

Finally shouldn’t we be teaching our youth and future leaders something better than Bill 78?