Bill 78: Controversial and historic legislation passes

The Charest government adopted the controversial legislation Bill 78, in an effort to put an end to the tuition crisis Friday afternoon.

Bill 78 was tabled Thursday night and voted into law 68 for, 48 against. The bill aimed at calming the student conflict was finalized and accepted after undergoing amendments. In hopes of restoring order to Quebec after 14 weeks of protest, the law is set to expire in July 2013.

The new law imposes strict regulations for demonstrations and limits the number of participants, when, and how long individuals can protest. Hefty fines are to be imposed for students and organizations that violate provisions of the law. Furthermore, the emergency legislation also suspends the rest of the semester at post-secondary institutions affected by the strike.

An individual who blocks access to a CEGEP or university could face a fine anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Student leaders could be charged up to $35,000 while student associations and federations could face a penalty of $125,000.

Demonstrations are now restricted to 50 people and an itinerary must be given to the police eight hours in advance of the action. This changed from the original proposal, in which the provincial government wanted to limit the protests to groups of less than 10 people. Protesters must also inform the police about the length of the protest beforehand.

Around the same time yesterday, Montreal’s city council passed a bylaw prohibiting the wearing of masks during public demonstrations.

Student leaders, the Charest Liberals’ opposition, and various civil rights associations have openly criticized the controversial legislation and the ethics behind it.

Following the adoption of Bill 78, the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec’s President Martine Desjardins said that the situation is “not over until it is over.”

Members of the Parti Quebecois voted against the emergency legislation, still sporting the red squares associated with the student movement. Leader Pauline Marois denounced the provincial government for an “abusive” law, calling it “one of the darkest days in Quebec democracy.”

Despite the strict limitations imposed by the law, thousands took to the streets of Montreal last night in protest where Molotov cocktails were reportedly thrown at police.

Read Bill 78 in it’s entirety in English (via CBC news) or French (via La Presse)

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