A sea of red through the downtown core
Students and their supporters took to the streets en masse on March 22 to protest a tuition hike proposed by the Liberal provincial government at the time. The non-violent protest was estimated to have attracted more than 200,000 people and stretched for more than fifty city blocks. Monthly protests on the 22nd of each month became common afterwards, and eventually helped lead to the abolition of the hike following the Parti Québécois’ victory in the fall provincial election.
Concordia get slapped with $2-million fine
Then-Minister of Education Line Beauchamp cracked down on the university with a $2-million penalty for providing senior administrators with thousands of dollars in severance packages upon their departure. Beauchamp addressed her concerns in a letter to former Board of Governors Chair Peter Kruyt, denouncing the university for its spending of public funds and high turnovers of top employees. Beauchamp insisted that the province’s universities “be administered efficiently and rigorously” in early March. The fine was paid through a reserve account of the university’s later in the year.
Charbonneau Commission gets under way
On May 22, the Charbonneau Commission, set up by then-Premier Jean Charest following mounting public pressure to investigate corruption, began its two-year task of investigating corruption and collusion in the construction industry and political life in Quebec. With its almost entirely public testimonies and proceedings, the Commission has managed to shake up the city with tale after tale of bribery, questionable payouts and rigged bidding on contracts. Though still on-going, the testimony heard has led to the resignation of long-standing Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt and Mascouche Mayor Richard Marcotte.
Alan Shepard begins his term as president at Concordia
Alan Shepard began his five-year term Aug. 1 as president and vice-chancellor of Concordia University amidst harsh criticism over the university’s financial mismanagement. Shepard came to Concordia from Ryerson University in Toronto, where he served as provost vice-president academic.
Parti Québécois win provincial election
Following the victory of the Parti Québécois Sept. 4 with a minority government in a snap provincial election, Pauline Marois’ victory speech was cut short when an armed man tried to enter the building and fatally wounded a stage technician before fleeing. Police shortly apprehended the suspect, later identified as Richard Henry Bain. Denis Blanchette, the victim, was given a civic funeral attended by hundreds including Marois.
Allegations of mistreatment in homestays
Chinese exchange students began to come forward with allegations of mistreatment and abuse in their homestays, including not being fed properly, being overcharged and lied to before coming to Canada and afterwards. Peter Low, director of the Concordia China Student Recruitment Partner Program, came under fire over claims of money disappearing and incorrect information being given to students. Concordia University was also under scrutiny from all over the country, and groups such as the Concordia Student Union and the Off-Campus Housing and Job Bank stepped in to help find the best solution going forward with the issue brought to light by The Link.
Michael Applebaum’s win
After Gérald Tremblay stepped down as the mayor of Montreal since 2002, Michael Applebaum, an Anglophone mayor was chosen to steer the city of Montreal on Nov. 16. Applebaum beat opposition leader Richard Deschamps 31 votes to 29, resulting in three ballots rejected in the secret-ballot vote. He is the first English mayor to lead Montreal in the last 100 years. James John Guerin, who served from 1910-1912, was the last English mayor. Applebaum is also Montreal’s first Jewish mayor.
Language barriers within Montreal’s public transit
The Société de transport de Montréal was scrutinized this year for language barriers with English-speaking clientele. In May, third-year graphic design student at Dawson College Amanda Lenko, was refused the Between Stops services for speaking English on a bus late at night. In October, 23-year-old Mina Barak was allegedly attacked by an STM worker at De La Savane metro station when she had asked help in English from an employee.
Jun Lin’s death
Luka Rocco Magnotta was the target of an international manhunt after becoming the prime suspect in the dismemberment case of Concordia University student Jun Lin. Magnotta was arrested and charged with murder when he was found in a cafe in Berlin, after fleeing Montreal. Concordia raised $70,000 that helped cover the costs of Lin’s family’s stay in Montreal. The university also set up an award that will be given to a Chinese exchange student in need of financial assistance. Sixty-thousand dollars went to supporting the victim’s family and $10,000 went to the creation of a scholarship in his name.