My comments can be heard at minute 19:30 of the podcast.
May 16, 2015
The Liberal government’s proposed austerity measures have some very serious consequences for students and teachers in Quebec’s public schools. In addition to the insulting salary offer to teachers and the proposal to raid our pensions there are a number of measures that will directly affect students:
removal of limits on class size
- removal of the weighting system for special needs students
- cutting the funding for resource teachers that help special needs students
- cutting funding for after school homework programs
- cuts to support staff including child care workers and special ed technicians
Robert Green discusses the impacts of these proposed policies with CJAD’s Tommy Shnurmacher:
Quebec’s growing popular movement against government austerity is about much more than opposition to a particular government policy. It is quickly becoming a battle over the legitimacy of Premier Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government.
The concept of legitimacy is central to the study of political science, and it’s what politicians are getting at when, for example, they refer to a pipeline project failing to achieve social licence. Definitions of the concept by numerous philosophers all share the idea that legitimacy is tied to the notion of popular acceptance of the exercise of authority — what John Locke referred to as “consent of the governed.”
Whereas dictatorships and theocracies have relied on religion, tradition, ideology and the charisma of leaders as sources of legitimacy, secular democratic governments, which are supposed to be the heirs of Enlightenment values, have relied on elections and notions of the common good. In theory then, a legitimate democratic government is one that is elected on the basis of a transparent political program aimed at advancing the public interest.
This raises the question of whether the government of Quebec, given its actions since coming into office, should be viewed as legitimate.
A government with political legitimacy?
Supporters of the Couillard government are quick to point out that his Liberal party won a significant majority in the last election and therefore has the right to govern as it sees fit.