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Geneviève Tremblay July 16, 2012
The day after its congress, which took place on Saturday at Université Laval, the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité étudiante (CLASSE, the Broad coalition of the Association for student solidarity) yesterday reaffirmed its determination to oppose “neoliberal policies” and to rally Quebeckers to its “social strike” through dialog, whether or not elections take place.
This strategy, elaborated last week along with the publication of its manifesto entitled “Share Our Future” and refined this weekend in Quebec City, will remain independent from any political party and will escalate its efforts in the event of an election call, underlined co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois yesterday, who was reached by Le Devoir after a day of talks in Montérégie.
“What the congress decided upon was to conduct a campaign focused on the students’ ideas and values. To operate in parallel to the election campaign, to not follow any particular party, to go speak with people about our societal vision without sending out a briefing or instructions on what is to be done on voting day”, he said, adding that the Coalition is “clear-minded”.
It is not targeting any party or electoral platform, though the Coalition promises however that it will “defend some principles and criticize others”, with the aim of exchanging ideas with the people of Quebec and perhaps inspiring them on voting day, if it happens.
Warned by the Directeur général des élections (the General Director of Elections), who reminded that pressure groups cannot commit expenses to “promote or put at a disadvantage, directly or indirectly, a candidate”, the Coalition assured that its expenses are “extremely negligible” and can be summed up to the printing of manifestos and the activists’ car trips.
A scattered tour
Education minister Michelle Courchesne’s comments, who declared last Friday that CLASSE was scattering itself and was changing its agenda by taking on broader social issues such as the Plan Nord and shale gas mining, startled Gabirel Nadeau-Dubois, who qualified them as “ridiculous”.
“At the beginning of the strike, the Liberal minsters were at their pulpits to condemn the fact that students were only mobilizing for their own [selfish needs], without taking taxpayers into consideration, he exclaimed, underlining that the Liberals defended them by qualifying CLASSE’s demands as “corporate”. “And now that we’re talking about a societal project, that as youths, we’re taking a stand on greater issues, Ms Courchesne is slapping us on the wrist and telling us to mind our own business”, he claimed.
Echoing to the content’s of the manifesto that was presented last Thursday, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois laid down that CLASSE is fulfilling a “duty” by taking action in this manner on several fronts. “What we are expecting of Quebec’s youth is that it takes a stance on the future of Quebec, he underlined, because that province, we’ll be inheriting what the Liberals are currently destroying”.
The “political mobilization tour” launched in Sorel last Friday, which is going beyond the strict question of tuition fees in order to tackle four values upheld by the Coalition - democracy, social justice, ecology and male-female equality -, seeks to open a “dialog” with the regional populations of Quebec, from Granby to Rimouski, where support has been more lukewarm since the beginning of the student crisis.
“The objective is obviously not to profoundly change Quebec’s political imagination in three weeks, the spokesperson pointed out. It’s to go slowly but surely, to start creating links, to circulate the message of the manifesto to the greatest extent throughout Quebec’s cities.”
Passing through Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu yesterday afternoon, where it was invited to the city’s first popular assembly, CLASSE had only attracted around thirty people - a discreet beginning that the spokesperson qualified as “honorable”. “In the student movement, not too long ago, there were also 40 people at the general assemblies. It’s through work, through efforts that we’ve reached more and more people.”
Pursuing the strike?
Despite its unswerving support of the strike and of free education, both positions that have earned them the “radical” label throughout the student crisis, the Coalition plans to organize general assemblies as quickly as possible to elaborate positions on whether or not the CEGEP and university strike should be renewed - this, before the return to classrooms in August.
“The last time we consulted the students, there was the will to strike. It’s the action plan that we’d adopted preliminarily, so for us, the natural progression is the resume the strike, affirmed Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. But in the context of Bill 78 and of a probable electoral campaign, he added, it is necessary “to hold general assemblies as quickly as possible, because we have quite an important decision to make”.
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.