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Antoine Robitaille May 29, 2012
The premier has apparently promised students that today’s discussions would tackle the subject of tuition hikes.
Yesterday afternoon, for the first time since the beginning of the student conflict, Jean Charest had an exchange with the student representatives assembled in Québec for the “last chance” at discussions. He is reported to have mentioned a plan for the “general state” of universities also described as a large “Forum” on the future of Québec universities and to have promised students that today’s discussions would tackle the subject of tuition hikes.
How much time did M. Charest spend with Léo Bureau-Blouin of FECQ, Martine Desjardins of FEUQ, CLASSE’s delegates and Paul-Émile Auger of TACEQ?
According to our sources, M. Charest was present from 3:10pm until 4:00pm. The premier’s spokes person, Hugo D’Amours, incidentally maintained to the Devoir that the premier spent 50 minutes with the students; but he refused to give details on the content of the exchanges, notably on the path that M. Charest proposed to students. Other sources give an account of a briefer meeting of 15 minutes. The FEUQ, in its news release mentioned a visit from 20 to 30 minutes long.
One thing is certain, it is not “foreseen” that the premier will come back to the table today, M. D’Amours let it be known, while the discussions between the Education minister Michell Courchesne (accompanied by the acting Finance minister, Alain Paquet) and the student representatives have to pick things up again at 1:00pm. According to the premier’s official schedule, he has to be present at question period in the national assembly at 2:00pm.
Jean Charest always said that the government spoke with one voice in this portfolio, but yesterday, “he decided to go there himself, that’s all,” responded M. D’Amours.
It’s the first time since the very beginning of the student strike that the head of the government met with the student leaders. Until yesterday, he had systematically refused all direct contact with them since the beginning of the conflict, even if the PQ opposition relentlessly urged him to meet with them.
During a study of the youth portfolios credit in the Salon rouge of the national assembly this spring, M. Charest refused to shake hand with the student representatives present. Similarly, just before the adoption of the special law 78 on May 18th, the PQ asked in vain to have proceedings adjourned so that M. Charest could meet with the faces of student protest that were in the galleries.
In addition, according to the premier’s office, there will not be a special liberal caucus tomorrow night as certain media sources have claimed, but a “dinner” offered by the premier is that has been foreseen for a long time.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.