Striking Quebec Students Demand Free Pedicures, Manicures And Massages
MONTREAL -The three main groups leading the volatile strike against tuition increases in Quebec have demanded Premier Jean Charest’s government provide all full-time students with free pedicures, manicures, and massages.
“We demand respect for our minds and our bodies,” said the two-page document served to the Premier. “We are the future of Quebec and we are entitled to support as we work to become the new leaders.”
As Molotov cocktails continued to fly in Montreal and Quebec City, newly appointed Education Minister Michelle Courchesne’s reaction was swift. “Toe and finger nail clipping? Full-body, deep-muscle massages. Mais non!” said the Minister. “I’d got back to school if this were to happen.”
With polls showing support for the students collapsing among Quebec voters, the 150,000 striking students were largely taken by surprise by their representatives’ new demands.
“Yes, it would be nice,” said Louise Waters, an Anglophone out-of-province Political Science student. “But we should be focusing on more important, realistic things like free cafeteria food and free clothing. Blue jeans aren’t cheap.”
Local business owner Pierre Patois says he supports the Government covering the costs for students to get a little pampering. “We must support our hard-working and brave students,” said the owner of Pierre’s Petite Beauty Parlour and Spa.Even with the proposed tuition increase, tuition costs in Quebec would remain the lowest in Canada. Current annual tuition in La Belle Province is $2,519. Current annual tuition in neighbouring Ontario is $6,640. Other Canadian students cannot take advantage of Quebec’s low tuitions, with out-of-province fees pegged at $5,866. The Charest government is slated to increase Quebec tuition by $254 per year for 7 years for a total increase of $1,778 by 2019. Even without factoring in any potential increases in other provinces during that period, Quebec tuition would still be by far the lowest in the country at $4,297 per year.
“What those other provinces charge is unimportant,” said Pauline Mirois, leader of the separatist-leaning Parti Quebecois, as she stood on the steps of stately Hotel de Ville de Montreal (Montreal City Hall) wearing the Red Square patch that has become the membership badge for the protesters. “We are Quebec! Vive le Quebec! Vive les Quebecois edudiants libre!”
On the same day the new demands were presented, the Government’s Bill 78 came into effect, aimed at quelling violent protests. Striking groups of more than 10 must now inform police of their march routes, and individual student leaders face fines of up to $25,000 if anyone is prevented from entering an educational institution. Unions or federations face fines of up to $125,000.
It should be noted that the fines are temporarily moot as all classes have been cancelled until August.
Crowds gathered again in downtown Montreal today with Martine Desjardins, leader of the student group FEUQ (really!) shouting them into a frenzy through a bull horn.
“Non to tuition increases,” he shouted. “Oui to pedis, manis et massages.”
“Pedis! Manis! Massages!” the students roared back with riot police standing nearby.
One student carried a sign that read, “Clean my toe jam Charest!”
Reporting For The Lapine