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For more useful English-language sources on the conflict, see:
François Bergeron and Christophe Reutenauer, Professors at UQAM; Sylvie Hamel, Professor at the Université dé Montréal 11 June 2012
Original French text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/352279/l-illusion-de-l-election
For many, the only possible way out of the student crisis is simple: all that is needed is for the government to call an election. In the worst hypothetical case, let us suppose that the Charest government is re-elected.
The government would then believe that the tuition fee increase is entirely legitimate and that the students have nothing left to do but to submit to its commands. What will happen if the students refuse to do so? People will say that this is how “democracy” works, and that the minority must bend to the will of the majority. Regardless of this rather reductive conception of democracy, we believe that there is reason to expect that a large group of students will make a plea of inadmissibility. In fact, such a response is quite legitimate in a real democracy, not least because there is every reason to expect that the question will not be debated in depth during an election campaign (if we judge by the very superficial level of past campaigns). Moreover, the vast set of problems which lie beneath the student movement, and the controversy surrounding law 78, run a great risk of being drowned in the great variety of issues which must necessarily be considered during an election. In this sense, to vote for one party or another will not necessarily mean that one adopts all the positions of that party.
Rather than just putting our heads in the sand, an end to the crisis that is beneficial to the whole of Quebec society must pass, first of all, by way of a citizens’ forum (or “Estates-General”) on our universities: their future, their role, their funding model. It will only be after a broad consensus has been reached on a “quebecois” way of achieving the universities’ mission that we will be able to decide whether it is better to prioritize free tuition, or what should be the “fair” contribution of the students to the “cost” of their education. It is essential that the students have a role [in this discussion]* if they are to embrace with enthusiasm the choice that comes out of [such a discussion], rather than being forced to accept a model of the university imposed on them by a few who believe themselves to have the monopoly on what a “fair” description of it should be.
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.