Is there a ‘political memory’?

Quebec students are starting their warm-up exercises early this year. Their studies are, of course, important but there is nothing like a good protest to meet members of a sexual persuasion that interests you, to get some healthy outdoor exercise, vent your lungs and to get physical with thugs from the various police forces. And yet it all appears to be instigated by Quebec’s Pequiste Premier Pauline Marois. She seems to be blind to the reason she won the last provincial election.

Are political memories that short? What caused the downfall of former Premier Jean Charest? Was it not the same damn issue? Are not tuition fees in Quebec always the lowest such fees in Canada? And do the students care? They are students. They need little excuse to join the revolution. Any tuition fees annoy them. Any increase in tuition fees is, to them, an act of war. You would think that Pauline Marois would know that.

It reminds you of Bob Rae, now temporary leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, when he was New Democratic Premier of Ontario. He was sitting on the provincial throne looking good until he was convinced that some austerity was in order in the province. He turned to the teachers and other unionized workers in the province and told them to pony up. All he asked them for was for a wage freeze and some unpaid days off. Next thing we knew, a guy named Michael Harris was Premier of Ontario.

And yet there was Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty just a year ago telling the teachers and other unionists that they were going to have to, once again, help Ontario out of its deficit. And when you think of how hard those teachers worked to help Mr. McGuinty get re-elected, it was enough to make you cry. Nobody seems to have a political memory.

And sure, we can sit here in Ontario and laugh at the foolish Pequiste and her problems in Quebec but not for long. We in Ontario have lucked out with an apparently docile student population in this province whose parents have more money than brains. Yah, they want their son or daughter to be a doctor or lawyer or whatever but there is a tipping point on costs and we probably have already passed it.

Tuition rates in Ontario are an outrage. Any history buff can tell you that when students finally get mad, they can become a potent force. Fuck with them at your peril.

And any true liberal knows that individual rights include the right to learning. Our objective should be to eliminate tuition fees. Chew on that for a bit Premier Wynne.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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