SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Student groups are back in court today to challenge Quebec's controversial Bill 78, an emergency law that limits protests in the wake of the province's tuition hike crisis.
Student federations are filing a legal motion to temporarily suspend the special law until later this summer, when they plan to challenge the legislation's constitutionality.
Lawyers for student groups are challenging specific clauses they believe violate freedom of expression and freedom of association.
The special law has done nothing to quell anger over the government's handling of the tuition crisis, said Éliane Laberge, president of Quebec's college federation (FECQ), as she entered Quebec Superior Court Tuesday morning. In fact, she said, "It is only aggravating the conflict right now. The government has chosen repression."
The legislation's spirit shows a certain government disdain for young people, said Martine Desjardins, president of Quebec's university students association (FEUQ).
Desjardins said the Liberals' Tuesday night byelection loss in Argenteuil, a long-time bastion for the party, shows that Quebecers will judge a government that shows contempt for its youth.
Bill 78 was adopted May 18. The law limits the timing, size, location and planning of student protests at the risk of heavy penalties for leaders.
It also suspends the winter semester for colleges and universities until August, giving students a chance to recoup missed classes without losing a term.
The legislation was adopted in response to Quebec's exploding tuition crisis, which started in the winter with a province-wide boycott of classes in colleges and universities and has ballooned into daily protests.
Quebec plans to raise tuition in the fall.
Arguments in the legal challenge are expected to last two days.— www.shafaqna.com