A balance sheet of Occupy Toronto: Lessons moving forward

The global Occupy Movement swept across Toronto on the weekend of 15th October. For five weeks, protesters engaged in daily protests, coordinated around the St. James Park encampment, until the police-enforced eviction on 23rd November 2011. Over this period, thousands of youth have, for the first time, entered into political activity. The supposedly apathetic and disinterested young generation erupted into a mass youth movement from almost nowhere. The movement has been able to resonate beyond the youth, and attracted support from working people and trade unionists.

Over 200,000 students strike against Quebec tuition increases

Over 200,000 Quebec students went on strike on Thursday (10th November) against the tuition increases being imposed on them by the Quebec Liberal government. Premier Jean Charest's proposes to increase post-secondary tuition fees by a total of $1,625 over the next five years, the biggest tuition increase in the province’s history.  Combined with a previous $500 increase by the Liberal government, this amounts to a 125% increase in the amount that Quebec students must pay for post-secondary education.  The indignation that has swept throughout society against this is astounding and clearly manifested itself throughout the strike.

#OccupyToronto begins the fight against the Bay Street bosses

Echoing the Wall Street protests in the United States, young people in Toronto are joining together to mobilize against the agenda of the financial oligarchs. In only the last couple of days, over 15,000 have taken to the streets to demonstrate against Wall Street. These thousands include nurses, teachers, transit workers, and other trade unionists. The importance of participation from workers, and more specifically from organized labour, cannot be overemphasized.

Education is a right -- The fight for free education starts now

Quality post-secondary education is increasingly becoming an unattainable dream for many working-class youth in Canada.  Since 2000, tuition fees have doubled, on average, with no end in sight.  This is coupled with very high rates of youth unemployment, more than double the average rate for all workers.  Free education is the key demand which can unite hundreds of thousands of working-class youth.  It is vital that our organizations, especially the Canadian Federation of Students and the NDP, adopt this demand and make it a central part of their platform.

Youth unemployment in Canada: "Last hired, first fired"

Figures from Statistics Canada show how youth in Canada, and around the world, are being unjustly forced to bear the heavy burden of the capitalist crisis. While corporations worldwide continue to maximize profits, youth are suffering record unemployment rates that leave them susceptible to poverty, a lack of housing and education, and an increased risk of violence and conflict with the law.

Which way forward for the University of Toronto General Assembly?

The UofT General Assembly, initiated primarily by a group of left-wing students at the University of Toronto, was launched on January, 2011. The first gathering of the assembly saw a hall packed with some 200 students, workers and community members. Many experienced activists were present. More importantly, however, was the participation of a significant number of youth who were recently politicized and interested in organizing.

Fight for free quality education now!

Students are under attack, and the situation is only going to get worse. Undergraduate tuition fees have steadily risen over the past two decades, as student debt has rocketed to an average of $28,000. Youth from working class and poor communities have been particularly hard hit by the increasingly inaccessible education system. In the current economic crisis, the reality is that many graduates face the prospect of unemployment and low-pay employment (despite their high skill level), making student debt a nightmare many understandably choose to avoid altogether.

Quebec Liberals attack the CEGEP system: Defend free education!

Unlike the rest of North America, the Quebec working class was able to win the right to free education in the 1960s.  The CEGEP system was created by mass mobilizations of the labour unions. The unions demanded education and training be made accessible to their children and they won this from the government and the system. This social gain is something that needs to be defended against all attacks from the capitalists who seek to profit from the education system.

McGill University demands its workers and students to pay for the crisis

The financial press tells us that the economy is now recovering from the financial crisis. However, this doesn’t mean that the effect of the financial crisis is over for workers. Countries all over the world have poured in trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to prop the failing capitalist economy, creating the biggest state deficit in history. This will translate into vicious cuts in many sectors, including post-secondary education.

Revenue from tuition fees to pass corporate taxes in BC by 2011

With each year that passes under Liberal rule, another several layers of bricks are added to the financial wall separating working class youth from British Columbia’s colleges and universities. As part of a recently released three year fiscal plan, the B.C. government announced the stunning projection that by 2011 it will receive more revenue from tuition fees ($1.11 billion) than from corporate income taxes ($1.04 billion). This report confirms the government’s plan to further deepen a trend that has seen colleges and universities become increasingly inaccessible to working class students.

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