The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently took aim at the Quebec government’s Bill 78, arguing that it restricted the right of students to freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly. In a speech of five pages, Quebec is mentioned in two lines; this same speech touched on international human rights violations in countries like Syria, Mali, Nepal, Mexico, and Russia.
One must begin to seriously wonder whether the Commissioner has read Bill 78. Employees must report back to work (s. 10), but may still strike (s. 12). The bill prohibits the act of denying a student’s right to attend or access a university (ss. 13-14). Additionally, the organizers of demonstrations with more than fifty people must provide the date, time, venue, and location of the strike route; if the venue “poses serious risks for public security,” the police may require a change of venue (s. 16). The fines for blocking access to a university or participating in an illegal riot are between $1,000 and $5,000; this increases to up to $35,000 for student union leaders, or $125,000 for a student union.