Two Quebec students challenge constitutionality of mandatory student association membership

Less than two weeks after Edward Inch was before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice seeking to have his student union fees refunded, two Quebec university students have filed an application with the Quebec Superior Court to challenge the constitutionality of the Quebec Act respecting the accreditation and financing of students’ associations.

Laurent Proulx, one of the plaintiffs, became well known for having received one of the first court injunctions during the Quebec student strike. Students had formed picket lines in front of all entrances of university/cégep buildings to ensure that nobody was able to enter. A wave of court injunctions were issued by Quebec courts which forced post-secondary institutions to ensure that professors were in the classrooms lecturing and ordered student association to cease blocking people from entering university/cégep buildings. The co-plaintiff in this case, Miguaël Bergeron, is the co-founder of Fondation 1625, an organization created in July 2012 to help raise funds for students which were negatively effected by the student strike. As the organization grew, it started supporting various court cases including a potential class action lawsuit against twenty five Quebec post-secondary institutions, the contempt of court case against Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and, of course, this case.

In their application to institute proceedings for a declaration of nullity, Proulx and Bergeron are seeking to have section 8, 26, 28, 54 and 55 repealed on the basis that they violate section 2b and 2d of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as section 52(1) of The Constitution Act, 1982 which states: “The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect.” Furthermore, in the case that the Court repeals article 54 of the Act, the plaintiffs also ask the Court to repeal the articles pertaining to the payment of student dues (sections 52, 53 and 55).

This story has garnered a lot of media attention in Quebec. Here are some of the articles that have been published:

On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, Martine Desjardins, the president of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), was a guest on Maurais Live (CKYK 95,7 FM, Radio X Saguenay).

 

This will likely take years to get through the court system. Especially if these two young men are successful in having some or all of the sections of the law repealed. We will continue to follow this case closely.