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July 12 2012
“We’ll be delivering this manifesto whether there is an electoral campaign or not. But, what is certain is that if there is an electoral campaign, it might have a slightly different hue,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
CLASSE doesn’t intend to stay silent or calm during the electoral campaign which will likely begin soon, but the form that their action will take remains vague.
It will be at the end of next week, during the conference at the university of Laval, in Quebec, that the shape of this strategy will be defined, said co-spokespeople of CLASSE, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Jeanne Reynolds, during a meeting with the press to launch their new manifesto, this morning in Montreal.
CLASSE’s electoral strategizing will therefore end Saturday, but one thing is certain, the most militant of the student groups will not be silent, nor passive, said Ms Reynolds and Mr. Nadeau-Dubois. “The strategy for the moment, is not fixed. But what is clear is that we won’t be silent. There are reasons for thinking that the Liberal party won’t take Quebec in the right direction; these reasons are in the manifesto. And we’ll be delivering that manifesto whether there is an electoral campaign or not. But, what is certain is that if there is an electoral campaign, it might have a slightly different hue,” said Nadeau-Dubois.
Otherwise, he said, it was cynical for premier Jean Charest to call an election so soon, in summer, if that’s what he’s doing. “He knows very well that in the past, his party was elected with a low voter turnout. That’s the gamble he’s taking. Let’s hope that he gets caught in his own game. Since the beginning of the conflict, the main error that Charest has made, has been to systematically underestimate the strength of the movement,” said Nadeau-Dubois.
CLASSE is, however, not out to support any particular party. “There is a principle for CLASSE that is fundamental, which is of independence in the face of political parties. It’s a principle that is at the root of our coalition and that is one of the principles about which it is inconceivable to compromise,” Nadeau-Dubois emphasized.
The Parti Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire are more or less favourable towards the positions of the students, and their representatives often sport the red square, symbol of the student struggle.
Sought After On Ontario Campuses
Moreover, CLASSE’s summer tour won’t be limited to Quebec: it will also criss-cross Ontario, to spread the message of student mobilisation on the campuses of that province where the tuition rates are the highest in the country.
The “Student Solidarity Tour” will take place over nine days and will begin Thursday night in Ottawa with a speech by one of the co-spokespeople of the Broader Coalition for Student Union Solidarity (CLASSE), Gabriel Nadeau Dubois.
Schools in Kingston, Hamilton, Windsor, Niagara, London, Guelph and Toronto will also be featured on the itinerary. The tour will end in Peterborough on the 20th of July.
The aim of these events is to instruct other students in ways to oppose and contest tuition hikes in Ontario, explained Jayne King, president of the Canadian Federation of Students.
She adds that since 2006, the rate of tuition fee hikes has accelerated in the province.
For 2010-2011, according to Statistics Canada, Ontarians have spent on average 6640 dollars in tuition for post secondary education – that’s including what are the equivalent of cegeps in Quebec.
In Quebec, tuition for university was 2168 dollars in 2011-2012, and will be 3800 in 2016-2017, according to the schedule announced by the Charest government. Thousands of Quebec students who have been striking since February are fighting against a hike of 254 dollars per year for seven years.
According to Ms. King, the representatives of CLASSE will be there to share their impressions on the management of police during demonstrations who daily punctuated the strike. “It’s not about promoting militant action,” she says.
Jeremie Bedard-Wien, one of the representatives of CLASSE, who will be part of the Ontario tour, says that the students of this province all have reasons to protest.
“There are lots of citizens’ groups that are taking off in Ontario and they’re learning from our organizational strategies, and it’s obvious that the Ontario students are interested in knowing more about the way we organize and prepare for a general strike,” said the 20 year old community college student.
“Tuition is definitely higher in Ontario than it is in Quebec. I think it’s likely that student will react with that much more force,” said Bedard-Wien. According to him, the students have a duty to organize and to plan events if they want to have an influence on policy.
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.