As many of you have heard, the Parti Quebecois has been elected to a minority government under leader Pauline Marois, after 9 years of Liberal government headed by Jean Charest.
Some of the implications of this change of government are already known. Madam Marois made the announcement this afternoon that she intends to use power by decree to cancel the tuition increase implemented by the previous government, as well as Law 12/78 which came into effect in May. She has also reiterated her intention to hold a summit on the subject of post-secondary education, to discuss issues such as the funding and governance of universities, among other things.
There are other impacts that this election could have on SSMU members which are currently less clear. For example, Madam Marois has also indicated her plan to expand Law 101, also known as the Charter of the French Language, which structures the use of French as Quebec’s official language in areas such as businesses, schools and public service. Another proposal that came over the course of the election is to adopt a secular charter for Quebec, and as such could restrict the presence of religious symbols in public places.
Due to McGill’s nature as an Anglophone institution, and with a diverse population of students from all over the world, the SSMU is aware that these measures are a source of interest and concern for many of our members. Rest assured that SSMU will remain vigilant and continue to keep you informed as things progress. Furthermore, we will continue to advocate on behalf of our members in the face of measures which could negatively impact the ability of some to work, receive services or express their culture and religion in a respectful manner.
Similarly, you can expect to stay updated in regards to the summit on education. This is an opportunity to open up a campus-wide conversation about the place of McGill in the Montreal community, the role of post-secondary education in contemporary society, and changes that could be made beyond the single issue of tuition to keep it as accessible as possible. We encourage as many students as possible to engage in this process, and we will keep you informed as to the mechanisms we will use to get your feedback.
Finally, as many of you are surely also aware, two men were shot outside Metropolis theatre as Madam Marois gave her victory speech, one fatally. The SSMU extends its deepest sympathy to those who have been affected by the incident, and we hope that we can collectively move forward from this in a positive way.