Whine, Cheese, and University Tuition


By Bruce Clark

There are now three official languages in Quebec: French, English and Whine-eese, the latter being the linguistic choice for university students who have taken to the streets to protest the audacious idea of contributing a little more to the bargain basement price of their education.

Quebec universities have the lowest tuitions in the country and some of the lowest on the planet. There are good schools in Quebec including McGill, which is rated fifteenth in the world according to this site. You can attend McGill for a paltry four thousand to six thousand dollars a year. Compare that to prestigious US colleges like Duke, Brown or Johns Hopkins, all ranked lower than McGill, at roughly forty thousand dollars a year, and you have to admit Quebec university students are getting a pretty good bang for their education buck.

Quebec students are shamefully protesting hikes of only a couple of hundred dollars a year. The increase will finally put the price of higher education in Quebec more in line with the rest of the heavily-subsidized schools in the rest of Canada. The average cost for a university education in La Belle Province is around $2,500 dollars a year; Manitoba’s average is $3,271.  Parents pay far more to send a baby with a soft spot on its head to a daycare than they do to provide higher education for their ungrateful offspring.

Collective solipsism and pointless student unions wanting to appear effective are driving this mob mentality. A website called tuitiontruth.com, which claimed to be a “ …a campaign developed by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), in collaboration with the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS), to oppose tuition increases and defend accessible, public education…” had dubbed the movement, “The Mob Squad” (the domain is now up for sale). The pun being the lowest form of humour, I don’t hold great hope that these organizers will be future world leaders.

From their tweets and posts  (e.g. “over 40 comrades hanging out on the 3rd floor of james admin trying to get seats in the peanut gallery…”) these spoiled children have a definite teen-Marxist scent about them.

Associating themselves with their socialist forefathers makes these blatantly self-serving protesters even easier to dismiss. It wasn’t very long ago when students protested en masse and even lost their lives campaigning against Vietnam or other serious universal injustices. These were noble movements that fought the deadly abuse of power, not trivial, penny ante crusades fomented by naïve and perhaps disingenuous student leaders whose fontanelles have yet to close.

Taking to the streets to oppose an insignificant increase in tuition – the amount can be earned at a minimum-wage job in less than a week — reeks of indolent narcissism. The so-called student unions who are fanning the flames of this conflagration seem to have nothing better to do than protest the lowest tuitions in the world.  After all, if your job is to fight for student issues in a country like Canada where the worst thing that can happen is the on-campus Tim Horton’s is out of brocoli soup, you have to do something to justify your existence and –  union dues.

The protests are an embarrassing byproduct of a wealthy country. It’s axiomatic to say that every generation of a first-world country has it much easier than the last. These are individuals who have never had to get up off the couch to change the channel on the television never mind be conscripted into war or suffer through a depression.

“Generation Me” seems to have no respect or understanding for those who are actually paying for their education.  Millions of Canadian men and women go to work everyday, most of them at middle or working-class jobs, and pay their taxes so all Canadians have the opportunity to obtain an affordable degree or diploma.  That publicly-paid education will increase earning capacity enabling graduates to make a better living than many of those said men and women who footed the bill in the first place.

Pseudo-idealists drape themselves in the flag of socialism. They call for more taxes on big business and higher taxes on the wealthy so they can obtain an education that will increase their earning capacity. In other words, they want to profit off the backs of the hard-working taxpayer just like the corporations and big business they vilify.

Their desire for immediate gratification and lack of thought for the future is a sign of an inherited immaturity. They want to enjoy their low tuitions now without concerning themselves with shouldering the financial burden in years to come.   Like their parents, they’ll put it on credit and pay for it later in one way or another.

I pity the poor boss who will be forced to deal with these crybabies who have grown up in a culture where they have received everything they’ve whined for:


Glad to have you aboard. You’ll love working here.  The company subsidized the coffee fund and we all kick in ten bucks a month.


Tabernac!  It’s not free?  I’m going on strike.


No, see you don’t understand.  You only pay ten bucks and get as much coffee as you want all month – for ten bucks.   You know, Tim Hortons or Starbucks would cost you like a hundred or more a month.   And, like I said the company pays for most of it.


I don’t think I should pay for any of it.


That’s your choice.  You just can’t have coffee in the coffee room.


That’s bullshit.  I want free coffee.


You know what, I’m not liking your attitude.  I’m going to have to let you go.


I’m fired? Okay, I’m going on strike.

The late, great comic George Carlin called it the “pussyfication” of a nation. He was talking about the United States, but it applies to all wealthy countries including Canada.

Helicopter parents have hovered over their children protecting them from every little bump in the road and whispered in their ears inaccurate mantras like “you can do anything you set your mind to.”  They’ve built up their self-esteem for doing nothing other than breathing the air that surrounds them, creating entitled children who believe a publicly-funded university education is somehow their right and not a privilege.

An entire generation has misinterpreted the benevolence of a society that understands the social and economic benefits of affordable education and instituted its creation.

You don’t want to pay an extra couple hundred dollars for an education that you’re not paying for in the first place? Drop out and get a job.  Just be prepared to kick into the coffee fund.


  1. jfdskfj fjdsfds
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    On dit “Tabarnak” et non “tabernac.”

  2. Bill Roberts
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    One of the Quebec student arguments (and national student unions) is that their tuitions should be compared to countries where education is free. What these students fail to acknowledge/realize is that the free-education countries SEVERELY limit access to their universities: yes, it’s free, but only a tiny, elite group of students gets in. That’s how these European countries can afford to make it “free”. Once again, lunch comes with a bill, even if it’s hidden in the salad….

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Stand Up Guy

Bruce Clark

Bruce Clark is a comic and playwright. He splits his time between Winnipeg and Palm Springs, CA.