A tuition fee protest is gaining momentum in Quebec this week, with organizers claiming that more than fifty thousand students are now participating in an ongoing student strike. Students have taken to the streets of Montreal several times this week, with one group shutting down a major city bridge at the start of rush hour this afternoon. Riot police dispersed the protesters with pepper spray, re-opening the span after twenty minutes. The size of today’s main march has been estimated at five thousand.

The students are mobilizing against planned annual fee hikes that would raise annual tuition from $2168 to $3793 over the next five years.

The anti-hike protests are controversial in some quarters, as Quebec’s tuition rates are far below the national average. But as I noted on Twitter a few minutes ago, the idea that the average tuition rate is the right tuition rate is incredibly pernicious. If you start from the premise that every tuition rate below some “average” benchmark should properly be raised, then each tuition increase justifies the next one.

Or, to put it another way…

More on the Quebec protests soon.