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For more useful English-language sources on the conflict, see:
Lisa-Marie Gervais August 23, 2012
In the midst of the electoral campaign, the demonstration this “22nd” was about more than education.
Feeling like they hadn’t been a key subject of the electoral campaign, they took to the streets to be heard. Thousands of protesters marched in Montreal’s downtown yesterday, as students and anti-capitalists alike collectively uttered an unequivocal message: “Cha-rest! Get-Out!”
The calm and joyful tone of the demonstration offered a striking contrast to the vehemence of the protesters’ message. Most were sympathetic to the “red square” movement. Alicia, who is not a student but who was quickly won over by the movement, said point-blank “the theme of this demonstration is to get Charest out. I had to be here.” “Quebecers are in the streets, as we speak, and it’s very clear whose side they are on!” she added.
Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) August 3, 2012
The research chair on democracy and parliamentary institutions has presented troubling numbers on the low voter turnout among young people in the last federal elections and the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) looks forward to reversing that trend in the coming election so that young people can make a difference. “More than a million young people did not vote in the last elections. That’s huge. The plan that we’ve put in place aims to counter this so that young people can be the group that makes the difference on September 4 and vote in massive numbers,” declared Martine Desjardins, president of FEUQ.
In 2008, 36% of young people aged 18 to 24 voted and 41% of young people aged 25-34. Absenteeism in these two categories represents 17% of the total number of voters in Quebec. In the early days of this election campaign, FEUQ has set out to reduce this absenteeism by getting 65% of youth out to vote. ”We have to get ourselves out to the voting booths in great numbers if the opinions of young people are going to be taken into account in the next government. A massive youth vote could tip the scale and the political parties would then have to consider the ideas and concerns of young people,” said Desjardins.
July 26, 2012
Contrary to what is projected by the Director General of Elections in Quebec (DGEQ), the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) and the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) think that changes to electoral law are ill-conceived and they do not ensure that it will be easier for students to vote than in 2008, since those who leave their homes temporarily during the time of their studies will not be able to vote at their schools.
“The Liberal government has refused to put voting booths in CEGEPs and universities. It is now refusing to allow students to vote in the district of their schools and it has proposing instead a new rule with little bearing on the reality of life for students. One has to ask if it is not doing everything in its power to hinder students from voting in ‘student ridings’ such as Sherbrooke, out of fear losing the next elections,” wonder Éliane Laberge, president of FECQ, and Yanick Grégoire, executive vice-president of FEUQ.
Marco Fortier July 12 2012
After a spring of total mobilization against the Charest government, the student movement prepares trench warfare against the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) in the elections being announced for September.
>In graphics: the hotly disputed ridings
The student associations put everything in the works to “get out the vote” of protest against the liberal government. The students are convinced that the youth vote can make a difference in a dozen ridings, including that of Sherbrooke, represented by the premier Jean Charest since 1998.
“The students have been mobilized all spring against the tuition fee increase. Our priority is now to ensure that they will go vote”, says Yanick Grégoire, vice president of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), which represents 125 000 members.
Réjean Bergeron, Philosophy Professor July 11 2012
Original French text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/354280/carre-rouge-maintenant-on-fait-quoi
A protester is given a tattoo of a red square, the symbol of the student mobilization.
The Charest government will probably call an election in Quebec this August. This has everything to do with distracting people from the province’s pitiful state of affairs and disguising the smell of scandal, and Charest would certainly like to spend a good part of the electoral campaign talking about the student conflict and the red square, which he has set about associating with law-breaking, violence, disorder, mob rule, Pauline Marois, and the Parti Quebecois.
His political calculations are giving him reason to consider a spring election. In spite of the casserole protests and massive protests attended by many tens of thousands of people, the government has not budged and has even won sympathy from a subset of the population, according to surveys.
So, what strategy will the student associations adopt when classes resume in mid-August? Will they repeat the same tactics of blocking entry to CEGEPs and universities, and head back out into the streets with law 78 still in place? This is, in my opinion, a risky strategy that would let the Charest government score points in public opinion and boost its changes of being re-elected.
Jean Baillargeon July 6 2012
Original French text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/353974/mouvement-etudiant-le-defi-electoral
After its defeat in public opinion, will the student movement lose the electoral war? The question must be asked. Léger Marketing’s most recent survey from June 16th is merciless with regards to perception of the student movement. You can’t dispute the fact that it’s a big disappointment, despite the good performance of its leaders, who have literally become media rock stars.
In effect, as the survey reveals, 56% of respondents are in favor of the government’s position, against 35% who are instead favorable of the students’ position. With a 21% gap in favor of the government’s desire to increase tuition fees for $254 each year for the next seven years, for a total increase of $1780, the student movement has fallen into the trap of anarcho-spontaneity (the infantile illness of the student movement), of eternal victory of respect, which, for the students, represents a clear economic and social detachment.
Must it be surprised then, in a pre-electoral context, that the student movement is becoming, without being aware and against all expectations, the principal ally of the current government in getting itself reelected during the next election? The stars seem to have aligned, as if by chance, so that the launching of an election coincides with the beginning of the next catch up session at the collegial level planned for August 11th in 14 cégeps still on strike.
Lisa-Marie Gervais June 7 2012
Original French text: http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/education/351854/le-plq-craint-les-etudiants
Charest’s Liberal Party is opposed to the installation of polling stations in Cegeps and Universities
According to Liberal representatives, absentee voting should be emphasized, since one study showed that it permitted a 10 percent increase in participation. Photo: Jacques Nadeau
The Quebec Liberal Party is afraid of the students. It’s afraid of the students to such an extent that it’s opposed to the installation of voting booths in cegeps and universities, as was proposed by the Director General of Elections Quebec (DGE), Le Devoir has learned.
This was revealed as part of a report of the meeting of the technical committee on voting by the advisory group of the (DGE), a copy of which has been obtained by us. “The representatives of the Liberal Party aren’t in favour of putting polling booths in institutions of learning. They mentioned that this measure particularly favoured a part of the young electorate, that is, the students,” according to the confidential report of the meeting that took place on the 26th of April.
July 3, 2012
In Quebec it is difficult for a group to influence the result of an election if its members are dispersed throughout the territory. It’s unimaginable, for example, for the CAQ or Quebec solidaire supporters to move en masse to a riding to make one candidate win or lose.
And yet, this is in a way something that many students can do. I’ll let the site Vote étudiant au Québec explain.
The students who live in residences or apartments close to campus are entitled to register on the electoral list of the riding where they study since their domicile is actually situated within the limits of the electoral map.
Léo Bureau-Blouin and Pier-André Bouchard St-Amant. Former presidents, respectively, of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec and the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec
June 8, 2012
Letter to Mr. Jean Charest, leader of the Liberal Party, Minister of Youth and Premier of Quebec
In response to the student conflict, you have invited students to express themselves at the polls rather than in the streets as a means of resolving this dispute. On June 1st, you said: “If we can reach an agreement, all the better. But ultimately, there’s going to be a general election within the next 18 months. It is through democratic means that everyone will have the opportunity to express themselves on these issues.” We feel it is up to student groups and your government to find a solution to the present conflict.
As citizens, we hope to see a huge turnout of young people in the next election. Sadly, in the last elections, less than 50% of youth aged 18 to 34 took advantage of their right to vote.
However, there seems to be a contradiction between your government’s actions and your own public declarations on how to best “resolve the crisis.” As revealed yesterday in Le Devoir, Quebec Liberal Party representatives recently rejected a proposal by the Directeur général des élections du Québec (DGEQ) to set up voting stations on campuses, where students spend the majority of their time.
Given the low voter turnout among Quebec’s youth, the DGEQ has proposed that students be allowed to register on the electoral list and vote at their educational institutions, adding that it has the infrastructure and the means necessary to implement the program.
Lisa-Marie Gervais June 7, 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/education/351854/le-plq-craint-les-etudiants
Jean Charest’s party opposes voting stations in colleges and universities.
The Quebec Liberal Party (QLP) fears the student vote. So much so that the party opposes putting polling stations in colleges and universities, as proposed by the Quebec Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), the Devoir has learned.
This was revealed in the minutes of a meeting of the CEO Advisory Committee’s technical committee on elections, a copy of which was obtained by Le Devoir. “Representatives of the Liberal Party do not support placing polling stations in teaching establishments. They say that such a measure would favour a segment of young voters, namely students,” as can be read in the confidential minutes of the April 26 meeting.