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Kathleen Lévesque August 9, 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/356415/gabriel-nadeau-dubois-demissionne
The CLASSE ex-spokesperson says he was hurt by the “rhetoric” and “derogatory attacks” that he was subjected to.
Caption: Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois will no longer speak publicly as long as the student strike continues. Photo: Jacques Nadeau - Le Devoir
Bruised by the Charest government’s constant demonization of him, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois has resigned as co-spokesperson for the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE), hoping his decision will help breathe new life into the organization.
In an interview with Le Devoir, Nadeau-Dubois didn’t hide his weariness with the Liberals’ “rhetoric” and “personal derogatory attacks” over the past six months, not to mention their insinuations that CLASSE is a gang of “terrorists.” He is particularly virulent when it comes to the Premier. “I’ll never forgive Jean Charest for the comments he made during the Plan Nord conference. While there were serious injuries and extremely harsh confrontations going on outside, the Quebec Premier’s only response was to make tasteless jokes about it with his business friends. That really sticks in my throat,” he said, qualifying Jean Charest’s attitude as “undignified.”
While the CLASSE spokesperson is tired, he isn’t leaving on a bitter note. As an activist, he says he is as convinced as ever of the necessity of the “struggle” that has gone far beyond the issue of the tuition hike. “This has nothing to do with a lack of confidence or any doubts about the continuation of the movement. I just need to take some distance from my role as spokesperson,” he added.
“GND,” as he is often referred to, said his decision coincides with a new stage in the movement. Faced with the emergency law, student associations are expected to vote on the return to class scheduled for next week.
Nadeau-Dubois sent his letter of resignation to the members of CLASSE late last night. The CLASSE congress, the organization’s decision-making body, is expected to meet Saturday and Sunday. Members will decide whether or not to fill Nadeau-Dubois’ position. CLASSE has two other spokespersons: Jeanne Reynolds and Camille Robert.
In his letter, Nadeau-Dubois explains that his leaving will demonstrate he was “never a leader,” because the organization will continue to mobilize students. “CLASSE needs some fresh faces,” he added.
“We’ve helped create a climate of social and political change in Quebec. It is absolutely essential to keep this alive in the coming months and years. The issues raised by Quebec’s youth this past spring are much too profound to be settled in a 35-day election campaign,” writes Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
He recalls that the movement “raised long-overdue questions about fossilized and corrupt institutions, and criticized the Liberals’ “anything for a buck” economy. According to Nadeau-Dubois, Charest’s government is in “no position to be giving lessons in democracy. It is the very embodiment of corruption and the dissolution of public institutions.” He reminds activists that “Jean Charest’s attitude towards the students was made clear in the unprecedented violence that he unleashed on them.” His only regret is that Charest, “a premier who is contemptuous and violent towards Quebec and its youth,” is still the leader of Quebec.
Nadeau-Dubois has just wrapped up a tour with CLASSE that took him to regions all over Quebec. He told Le Devoir he felt it was a success, and there was often an “impressive turnout.” He also experienced some very “touching moments.” It was during the weeks travelling around Quebec that Nadeau-Dubois began to think of resigning.
Certain political disputes within CLASSE also contributed to his decision. CLASSE, it seems, is a machine that can be very hard on its leaders. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois admits there were sometimes differences between his personal views and the positions adopted by congress. He says that’s why it’s “healthy for an organization to introduce new faces, to avoid stigmatization.”
“CLASSE is a very democratic organization, but there are some downsides to that. They are very vigilant with the spokespersons, and they keep a close eye on you […] But I didn’t leave because of those tensions. There are still tensions and internal debates as there have always been,” he said, adding that it’s part of a healthy democracy. On a personal level though, he doesn’t deny that as a result of the criticism “no one ever feels too comfortable.”
“CLASSE is hard on its elected representatives. It’s no secret. But I can’t help seeing in that a very effective barrier to authoritarianism,” says Nadeau-Dubois, who is also critical of the “political milieu’s and media’s total fixation on finding a leader.” “It’s symptomatic of just how afflicted our democracy is. We live in a system that is so hierarchical and authoritarian that it’s difficult for some to even imagine a non-authoritarian approach to organization,” he says.
As for what’s next, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois isn’t planning to follow the example of his former comrade in arms, Léo Bureau-Blouin, who, after leaving the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), entered politics as a candidate for the Parti Québécois. He feels student leaders are indebted to the movement and shouldn’t benefit from the media attention to promote their personal views, so he will no longer be speaking publicly for the duration of the strike.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
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