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Jean Charest minimized the impact of this meeting.
Caption: The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, received the honor of Officer of the National Order of Quebec from Jean Charest today. Photo : La Presse canadienne (photo) Jacques Boissinot
Today, the premier Jean Charest minimized the impact of a meeting between the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, and student leaders on the subject of the increase in tuition fees.
Before coming to Quebec to participate in the International forum on the French language, Mr. Delanoë had solicited this meeting with student representatives.
A few hours before receiving the honor of Officer of the National Order of Quebec from Mr. Charest, Mr. Delanoë met the leaders of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) and the Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TACEQ).
Just after the ceremony, which was held under the moldings of a room in the National Assembly, Mr. Charest stated that the socialist politician was free to meet with the representatives of “civil society”.
“It was never a question of supporting anything, that was very clear,” he said during a press conference, “If the contrary is said, it’s precisely the contrary of the truth.”
According to Mr. Charest, Mr. Delanoë proved his neutrality by refusing for the question of the tuition increase in Quebec to be the object of a debate in the council of Paris.
Freshly decorated, Mr. Delanoë declared that he was interested in the students’ position, while being careful not to take a position on the subject.
“Quebec is a democracy so we don’t need to interfere in the democratic debates within the Quebec population,” he said. […] Being present here, I took to listening – I say listening well – to the student association to try to understand why they are taking these positions. But it’s well understood that I haven’t taken a side and I am quite careful not to make any judgment.”
In his speech for reception into the Order of Quebec, Mr. Delanoë did not broach the subject of the tuition fee increase. But, all why demonstrating his friendship with Mr. Charest, Mr. Delanoë did however recognize that their political positions are sometimes different.
“It’s true that we’ve established a personal friendship and that above and beyond there may be a few political differences – I know nothing about it, we haven’t verified everything,” he said, speaking about his relationship with Mr. Charest. “But, I believed I understood that you were a liberal. And you aren’t unaware that I am a socialist.”
Earlier, the president of FEUQ, Martine Desjardins, confirmed that the French politician was interested in the impact of the tuition increase on French students in Quebec, during this meeting that was planned two weeks ago.
In an interview that followed their meeting, Mme Desjardins stated that the French politician avoided taking a position in the debate on the tuition increase.
The student leader confirmed that Mr. Delanoë was hoping instead to understand the arguments of the student movement. But according the Mme Desjardins, the simple fact that the socialist politician had requested the meeting demonstrates the credibility of the students.
“It’s been undeniable since the start, we have good credibility, but the fact that the mayor wants to meet with us, that demonstrates that the interest is not only in Quebec,” she said.
Mr. Delanoë is the second French socialist to be interested in the debate over tuition fees.
However, the former minister of national Culture and Education, Jack Lang, went farther than Mr. Delanoë by pronouncing himself against the government’s decision.
The taking of this position had motivated Mr. Charest to call Mr. Lang to assure him that he had all of the information to fully understand the situation.
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.