November 5th was the designated Day of Action for the Canadian Federation of Students’ Drop Fees campaign. Students from across the province gathered in dowtnwon Toronto protest the rising cost of higher education.
The “Drop Fees” slogan itself is brilliantly ambiguous. Do they want to simply lower fees back to historical levels? Or perhaps more subversively, is it an attempt to get rid of all tuition fees like our communist socialist European cousins. Depends who’s asking; depends who’s answering. Both meanings were voiced during the event.
But in any case, I was there to take some shots for the Varsity, not to analyze whether it’s all a pipe dream (slideshow at the end of the post)
I caught up to the mob at College and Bay.
At University Avenue, someone decided that everyone should engage in an impromptu sit-in. Twenty minutes and five backed up streetcars later, they decided the fun was over and the marchers headed over to nearby Queens Park.
I found myself getting pushed close to the temporary fence as the crowds yelled for Dalton McGuinty to come out of hiding and discuss the situation.
Getting pressed by the crowd at the fence was was a bit too tight for comfort so I climbed on to the back of a truck which was acting as a makeshift platform. My friend Justin was DJ-ing for the march and he made some space.
Speaker after (non-liberal) speaker blasted the McGuinty government for breaking their promise about a new tuition freeze. But it dragged on. I even heard one of the CFS staffers mutter about there being too many speakers.
Perhaps the most interesting thing was the co-option of Obama’s slogans. Someone from the platform would yell “Drop fees now” and the crowd would start chanting “Yes we can.” Questionable semantics aside, Obamania still seems to be in full gear.
All in all, it was a pretty well organized event with a much bigger turnout than the previous events. Also, unlike some previous marches, this one stuck to the tuition issue without veering into the hodgepodge of left-wing issues that seem to surround these events.