The Tomato

U of O forced to absorb 45,000 new students

Illustration by Tina Wallace

Quebec Premier Lindy Marwas revealed a plan on Tuesday, Feb. 25 to expel Concordia University, one of Quebec’s largest Anglophone universities located in downtown Montreal, from the province of Quebec. The plan also outlines that students and staff of Concordia will be amalgamated into the University of Ottawa.

With a potential provincial election looming this spring, this plan of eviction is part of the premier’s ambitious goal to rally Quebec nationalist support and motivate the Parti Québécois (PQ) base.

In a press conference held at Montreal City Hall, Marwas, alongside Mayor Denny Codster, gave a detailed speech that laid out her government’s unprecedented plan to preserve Quebec’s linguistic heritage within Canada by expelling Concordia, a school of  more than 45,000 students.

Surrounded by posters proclaiming “Garder le Québec français,” Marwas consulted maps and budget estimates while explaining the feasibility and rationale behind this project.

After a few initial puzzled looks, Marwas clarified that “expelling” Concordia means relocating the entire university’s populace, including all students and staff, to the nearest city outside of Quebec capable of absorbing such an exodus, which happens to be Ottawa.

“The University of Ottawa’s location in the vicinity of our irritating federal government,” said Marwas. “And its obvious advantage over Carleton University, should make it able to take on these tens of thousands of new people in stride.”

Since the announcement, there has been a flurry of reaction from political figures and media agencies alike, with critics questioning the timeframe and accusing Marwas’ government of a lack of respect for Anglophones.

Marwas, however, defended herself against such critics in her speech: “Concordia is an ideal university to relocate because it’s Engli—I mean, as Concordia is split between two campuses over eight kilometres apart, the students and staff there must already be used to travelling a lot, so moving their entire university to another province is absolutely reasonable.”

Marwas proceeded to go through the logistics of this massive undertaking. The relocation will take place at the beginning of the next academic year in September 2014. Marwas claimed that this will “give all Concordia students and staff enough time to adjust to the change and to leave Quebec as soon as they can.”

This unexpected announcement has caught all of the U of O’s staff and students completely off guard, with a large delegation of administrators and staff demanding to meet with Marwas to know how they can be expected to double their school population so quickly, and to ask why they were not informed of this beforehand.

With the date for the relocation less than seven months away, the effects of what some are calling “Quebec separatism at its craziest” are already starting. Directly following the Feb. 26 press conference,  Marwas was seen in full construction gear holding a megaphone while operating a wrecking ball. Marwas was seen leading a huge parade of trucks, hydraulics equipment, steamrollers, and bulldozers down Sherbrooke Street West, all while shouting “Garder le Québec français,” and the French equivalent of “onward, ho!”

At press time, Marwas was reportedly back in her office in the National Assembly, gleefully putting a big red X over the word “Concordia” and readying another X for McGill.