Montrealers March for Quality Education

FEUQ-led Protest Draws Thousands

Music, horns and chanting filled Montreal’s downtown core today as over a thousand took to the streets to protest Premier Philippe Couillard’s austerity measures.

The “Marchons pour l’Éducation” protest, led and organized by the FEUQ, denounced the provincial government’s cuts to education and their effects on the population.

“Education should be a project for society as a whole, and that’s how we’re going to have a better Quebec,” said Jonathan Bouchard, president of the Fédération Étudiante Universitaire du Québec (FEUQ). “That’s where the next priority should be.”

Couillard’s government has proposed deep cuts to education in order to achieve its goal of a balanced budget by the end of 2016.

Protestors, however, say the government needs to slow down.

“The government right now is racing towards a zero deficit. We think it should take a couple more years to attain that,” said Bouchard. “The changes that they’re applying are much too fast and have way too big of an impact on the population.”

Video by Brandon Johnston

According to the FEUQ, some of the effects of the cuts include higher childcare costs, higher student to teacher ratios, less funding for research and fewer university courses.

“We really have to have a common front against these cuts to education and the assault on education that we’ve been seeing in the past few years,” said Anthony Garoufalis-Auger, protester and CSU VP Mobilization and External Affairs.

Concordia’s fine arts department is just one of the many faculties in the province that has already felt the effects of the austerity measures, explained Garoufalis-Auger. The department faced massive cutbacks last year, which shrank their capital equipment budget and cut down classes.

“It’s not a realistic plan, and it’s actually doing more harm,” said Garoufalis-Auger. “We have to push back on this liberal government agenda of protecting their buddies within the business community at the detriment of society, culture and education.”

“When you put up barriers, such as money, you’re restricting the kids’ access to an education they have a right to receive,” said protester Gisele Dupuis in French. “Older people like me fought in the 1960s to have quality education in Quebec!”