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June 3, 2012
CLASSE gets ready for summer mobilization and Gilbert Rozon to meet with students leaders tomorrow.
Photo : Canadian Press (photo) Peter McCabe
Several thousand people parade yesterday in Montreal at a rally in support of CLASSE. The group is holding its annual convention today.
The Canadian Formula 1 Open House event, originally planned for next Thursday in Montreal, has been cancelled.
The event’s organizers decided to cancel the day “given the recent announcements of planned disruptions”. The decision came about a few hours after the president of the Just For Laughs festival announced that he would try to convince the students to put an end to their “extortion” tactics.
The Canadian Grand Prix president, François Dumontier, noted this afternoon, via press release, that the decision to cancel had not been taken “lightly” but that the “free admission and open nature of the Open House event, presented certain risks”. The organizers offered their apologies to the F1 fans and assured them that their safety would ‘most assuredly’ be maintained during race weekend.
Gilbert Rozon’s Intervention
Gilbert Rozon, president of the Just For Laughs festival, will be meeting student leaders Monday to discuss the situation.
Mr. Rozon will attempt to convince the students to avoid disrupting the summer events in Montreal, which, according to him, constitute the “pride of Montrealers” as well as Montreal’s opportunity to shine on the international stage.
“I’m just going to try to appeal to their reason, knowing that I’m not only going before the students but also the more keen negotiators of the CSN (Confederation of National Unions) as well,” he explained.
“For myself, I have nothing to offer in exchange, other than the respect earned through responsible behaviour.”
“Can we at least offer safety and security to spectators who come to participate in free outdoor activities? The threats being put forward right now feel like extortion and hostage taking and I would like ask that they offer to respect individuals and families,” said Gilbert Rozon.
According to him, just a word from a student leader like Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois - with whom the president of Just For Laughs says he had a “cordial exchange” on the set of Radio-Canada during the taping of a show – can have an impact on the behaviour of protesters.
“Of course he can wash his hands of everything, as a leader (…) but he also has the ability to completely denounce violence and reassure us that things will occur under the most peaceful of conditions and without any desire to disrupt the events. There is a way to get a clear message out that will ensure calm,” pleaded Gilbert Rozon. And regardless of the outcome of their encounter, Mr Rozon says he has “nothing to lose”. “It will cost a couple of hours of my time. And if it goes well, I’ll get together with other event directors and we’ll find more ways.”
Today in Valleyfield, at the convention of the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE), organizers will recap the mobilization strategy that they intend to maintain throughout the summer to put pressure on the Charest in the ‘rights to schooling’ issue.
The co-spokesman for CLASSE, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, admits that there is a challenge to maintaining momentum during the summer break. He believes that it will become a more regional fight, instead of simply one of the larger urban centres. He notes that most of the students will have left the large cities to go back to their home communities. Mr. Nadeau-Dubois believes that the demonstrations may be smaller in size, but larger in number across Quebec.
At the end of the convention today, CLASSE intends to announce a number of large “get togethers” in Montreal to ensure that momentum in the big city is maintained. The first targeted event, the Canadian Formula 1 race, will be held next weekend.
According to Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, CLASSE will hold events to boost both visibility and awareness. He added that the Grand Prix and many other large events this summer, will serve as opportunities for the students to express themselves. However, he provided assurance that the goal is not to prevent people from participating in events, nor to jeopardize their safety.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and the other spokesperson from CLASSE, Jeanne Reynolds, will use the convention to ask for a renewal of their mandate.
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 email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.