January 19, 2019

Unite for Free Education and Against Ford's Anti-Democratic Attacks

YCL-LJC at the Rally in Toronto on January 18th
By Peter Miller 

In light of the recent announcement from the Ford Government, which includes continued unregulated international tuition fee costs, cuts to student grants, cuts to public investment in Post-Secondary Education, and voluntary payment of fees for student-run organizations, there is no doubt the student movement needs to build as militant and united a student movement as possible.

It all started on Friday with a large contingent of people making their voices heard against Doug Ford’s attacks against students. The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario organized the rally and took time out of their general meeting to protest with other students and labour allies.

Shortly after the announcement students have called for rallies across the province as well. A lively rally occurred at Western already on Friday, students are organizing a rally at the University of Windsor on Thursday, and another protest is set to occur at Yonge and Dundas Square this coming Friday.

It’s refreshing to see students get active so quickly. It’s also encouraging to see students mobilized against Ford’s cuts who may not have been mobilized before.

The Ford Government wants to end the student movement. He wants voluntary association and payment of dues with student unions, OPIRGs, school newspapers, campus radio stations, and groups fighting for the rights of marginalized students to try to stop dissent before it reaches a fever pitch. As students, we need to make him sorry he announced such a reactionary attack on student democracy and public education at the start of the semester.

He only consulted with far-right “free speech” associations on campuses in Ontario to threaten us with the implementation of these anti-democratic measures. These associations are against democratically run student groups that build the struggle against the Ford Government. They have sketchy connections with white supremacist groups and have shown they only agree with free speech when it is done in the name of the status quo or worse, not when we collectively speak out against the Provincial government.

As we protest we need to build as broad and united a coalition of student activists and groups as possible to fight against Ford’s attacks.We need to build a mass of students locally and across the province that can build a campaign of escalating action with our demands. Our fight should be built with a vision and demand for education to be free, accessible, universal, democratically run, and emancipatory. Another focus of our organizing must include uniting against the far-right. These “free speech” associations should no longer be able to organize unchallenged on our campuses because of their collaboration with this rotten government.

Hundreds of student and labour activists participate in Toronto's rally

There is no doubt that Ford’s government will not respond to reason, nor to simple debates at Queen’s Park. Only a broad united fightback from the streets can force him to abandon this dangerous measure. We, the students, have started off with a clear response condemning the government’s anti-democratic, and anti-people actions. Let’s keep up the fight!

List of rallies that have been organised so far (list to be updated if needed):

Orillia, on Monday:

Emergency Rally for AfFORDable Education in Ottawa this Tuesday: https://www.facebook.com/events/341408436460951/

Rally in Kingston this Tuesday:

Rally for Affordable & Accessible Education in Windsor this Thursday: https://www.facebook.com/events/2182154775370680/?active_tab=discussion

Protest at York University this Thursday:

Protest in Sudbury this Friday:

Protest Against OSAP Changes in Toronto this Friday: https://www.facebook.com/events/590198821418635/

Protest Against OSAP Changes in London, Ontario this Friday: https://www.facebook.com/events/339418176658972/

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