August 28, 2018

Young Communists prepare for conferences on free education

Special to RY 

As the school year is about to start, thousands of students across the country are looking at their bank statements sparing any penny to make it through the year without getting too much into debt simply to go to school to eventually find a job. Young communists in the meantime issued a call-out to convene student and young progressive activists to attend two unique conferences on free education.

Organised under the theme "The fight for free education, a Communist Perspective", the conferences will be organised in Toronto and Vancouver on September 15-16 and 28-29 respectively. Exact locations will be made public shortly.

"The idea behind these conferences is to show that the student movement has a potential in resisting all anti-popular measures that the youth is faced with, and also to make the point that fighting for free education is the way forward to build a strong student fightback as this is the main uniting demand that can put students in motion, as experienced during the 2012 Student Strike in Québec" says Peter Miller, Chair of the Student commission and member of the Central Executive Committee of the YCL-LJC Canada.

The conferences will count on the participation of student activists involved in the fight for free education, but will also address other struggles that involve the student movement such as environment, anti-racism, LGBTQ+, young and precarious workers, peace and solidarity through, for example, the BDS movement, etc.  and outline the link between these struggles and the one for free education.

As the call-out states, "it is a crucial time for strengthening the fight back for free, accessible, public and democratic education across Canada." It then outlines the fact that students are facing "skyrocketing debts that average $30 000" and that it is now time to take action, especially in the face of the danger of electing reactionary governments that have nothing to envy to the newly elected Doug Ford Government in Ontario which, in addition to all the rightist measures, will have the task to negotiate the foreseen measures leading to deregulation of tuition fees. When we see how this government has no shame in attacking local democracy through cutting by half the wards for municipal elections in Toronto and attacking the sex ed curriculum while refusing to pay for highly needed repairs in high schools, there is no doubts about what his plans are for post-secondary education.

Same could be said about the Federal Government that has no problem giving $4.5 billions for the oil and gas monopolies despite strong resistance from Indigenous people and environment groups and activists while stressing that there is not enough money to achieve free education.

The statement goes further assessing that "the student movement needs to step up to reach the level of fightback required in the current context across the Country." This context is marked by an increasing influence of right wing student union leadership which organises defederation campaigns from the Canadian Federation of Students, the main student union in English-speaking Canada. Despite some issues internal to the CFS, the young communists are committed to the unity of the student movement throughout the country. It doesn't mean a full support of the CFS, but it does mean a clear refusal of all kind of defederation campaigns  like "at Carleton, Ryerson, and the University of Toronto, while the CFS lost its provincial component in BC." The YCL-LJC believes that "fighting for student unity, which includes the need to coordinate our efforts across the country, is key to building a strong and militant fightback." It is also important not to "focus on defensive campaigns but prioritize offensive work and organize, educate, and agitate with free education as the core organizing goal."

Fighting for free education "has the potential to unite students across the country and to build a strong and action-oriented student movement" says the call-out. 

Addressing the issues of globalisation, free-trade agreements, environmental justice, peace and solidarity, the fight against the ultra-right, racism and xenophobia, for environmental justice, women's movement, the YCL-LJC makes it clear that the student movement has a forefront role to play, especially in times where ultra-right collectives are being organised on campuses and where people like Jordan Peterson and Lindsay Shepherd are being glamourised as a "bogus fight for freedom of speech".

"These issues are part of the fight for free, publicly funded, universal, democratic and accessible education. They need to be met with a strong, militant and united student movement. Together, we should create a network that brings energy to create a more combative and action-oriented student movement" concludes the statement before inviting all progressive-minded student activists who agree that building the student movement is a key issue in strengthening the fightback against big corporations and for peace, solidarity, democracy and socialism.


If you wish to attend the conference in Toronto, please fill the following form. 

More information about the Toronto event, click here !

Also, if you wish to participate in the Vancouver conference, please fill the following form.

More information about the Vancouver event, click here

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