Assignment 4d. Bill 78, The Anti-Protest Bill: Oppressing Freedom

What if the women’s suffrage movement never occurred? What if Gandhi’s nonviolent protests against the British rule never happened? Or Rosa Parks’ Montgomery Bus Boycott? These are examples of great positive change that only occurred because of peaceful protesting. What if our very right to protest was taken away? The right to protest and assemble ensures our freedom. If we lose our right to oppose, we’re inevitably living like puppets with no control over what’s most important to us

About Bill 78, Quebec’s Anti-Protest Bill

518 people arrested by police during the protest against Bill 78

On March 18, 2011, students learned about the Quebec provincial government’s plan to raise university fees by 75% (a staggering $1,625 tuition hike). Students opposed the LARGEST tuition increase in Quebec’s history. On April 27, 2012, the Quebec government offered to expand the tuition hike over a span of 7 years, though the tuition amount still remains unchanged. The student groups rejected the dissatisfying offer. The protests continued.

In an attempt to stop the growing number of student protesters, the Quebec government officially passed Bill 78 on May 18, 2012. They were hoping it would be the end of the student protests. It wasn’t.

As a university student, I support anyone protesting against tuition hikes, anywhere. Everyone knows educations is a RIGHT- but when only the rich can afford it, what the hell is the rest of the world supposed to do?  It’s bad enough balancing school and work, living on minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet and drowning in debt by the end of your university education.  When Canada can spend $1.1 billion on the G20 Summit, why can’t it reduce tuition prices? Or at least stop the tuition hikes.

Bill 78 forbids more than 50 people from assembling, picketing and protesting near University grounds, or the rest of Quebec, without notifying police about all the details prior to the day of the protest.

The fines for disobeying bill 78 include:

  • $1,000-$5,000 for individuals
  • $7,000-$35,000 for student or union leaders
  • $25,000-$125,000 per day for student or labor organizations
  • Fines doubled for second/subsequent offenses

 Bill 78 is nothing but another way to shut people up– Last time I checked, Canada is supposed to be a free country

Even if tuition hikes doesn’t effect the older generations, Bill 78 certainly does. People are not sheep to blindly follow any new law. Everyone should have a voice and a role in shaping the law. After all, the law is meant to protect the people, not oppress them. 

250,000+ Against the Anti-Protest Law in Quebec

Visit for the video transcript.

The passing of Bill 78 resulted in Quebec’s largest illegal protest. More than a quarter million people participated in the protest against Bill 78. The protesters were not only students, but from all walks of life. 

While I was browsing through some comments on a Youtube video about Bill 78, someone mentioned this famous poem (poem originally in relation to the Holocaust). I think it speaks volumes about the whole issue surrounding Bill 78.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller, a pastor who opposed Hitler and  the Nazi regime

If we don’t stand up for others’ rights, who’ll be there to stand up for us? Maybe that’s the logic behind Quebec’s largest illegal protest- it’s to protest against oppression itself.

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments are always welcome!