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At a time when the student movement is reconsidering its protest strategies, the only two CEGEPs that recently voted by narrow margins to continue the unlimited general strike may revisit those decisions.
Petitions calling for a second vote on the return to classes have been circulated this week at Cégep du Vieux-Montréal and at Cégep de Saint-Laurent. The administration of both institutions announced that the requests have been accepted and that general assemblies will be held Friday [August 17]. For a new strike vote to be called, the requesters present at the meeting must be in sufficient numbers to meet the minimum established in the charters of the respective associations.
Marc Paquin, who started the petition at Cégep du Vieux-Montréal, explained what motivated his initiative: “The signatories want to proceed as soon as possible with a new vote. We believe that the late start of the general assembly and the arrival of the nightly protesters influenced the vote of certain persons who would have spoken against the strike.” Let’s remember that, following five hours of debate, the return to classes scheduled for Friday was rejected by 879 students against 861 in favour of resuming classes.
Elsewhere, after Tuesday’s strike votes, Montmorency (6800 members) [Association générale des étudiantes et étudiants de Montmorency], Collège Lionel-Groulx (5500 members) [Association générale des étudiantes et étudiants du Collège Lionel-Groulx] and Institut national de recherche scientifique (130 members) [Association des étudiants en urbanisme, culture et société de l’Institut national de recherche scientifique] approved a return to classes.
Rethinking the movement
The wave of anti-strike votes this week is pushing the student federations to revise their strategy to oppose the tuition fee hike.
The Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE) has increased the frequency of its congresses to a rate rarely seen, even during the negotiations with the Charest government. Having decided at its August 11 congress to urge student associations to vote to continue the strike, it will meet again August 18.
“We will orient the plan of action based on news we received this week,” co-spokesperson Jeanne Reynolds told Le Devoir in an interview. “We will focus a our effort on the national demonstration on August 22nd. The objective is still to break law 12, but there are new developments and we also have to get ready to welcome international mobilization”, she explained, referring to chartered buses to bring demonstrators from Ontario and the United States to the picket lines.
The new strategy of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) will be decided after the election, during its congress September 13.
According to FECQ president Éliane Laberge, “many students say they are now ready to adopt other means”, including the election, “because out of the five [main] parties, only two [Option nationale and Québec solidaire] are clearly against the hike”.
For now, FECQ calls for a continuation of “the struggle for accessibility to school”. A permanent mobilization — also endorsed by CLASSE — would help remind elected officials, whoever they may be, of Québec students’ priorities.
The 113th nightly demonstration ended around 10:30 pm. The Montréal police service made three arrests.
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.