Students Suggest Quebec Government Negotiate Tuition Increase, Fight New Repressive Law

by Randy Shannon

The growing mass movement of students in Quebec against high tuition increases has become a threat to Government control of austerity in Canada. The Government is attempting to break the student resistance to austerity with an unusually harsh law against public gatherings, rallies and marches. This anti-free speech law was a signal to the Provincial Police, who used brutal violence against peaceful marchers, using clubs to bloody and break the bones of tuition hike opponents.

The public response last week could result in a quick retreat by the ruling conservatives in Canada. Hundreds of thousands of parents of students and workers marched with the students in open defiance of the new law. Amnesty International condemned the new law against free speech.

See the Guardian article below.

Quebec student protesters split over tuition fee compromise

Disagreements come as Amnesty declares controversial Bill 78 to be in breach of Canada’s international obligations

Adam Gabbatt, Saturday 26 May 2012 17.16 EDT

Quebec student leaders Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (l), Leo Bureau-Blouin(c) and Martine Desjardins(r) are seeking to block Bill 78. Photograph: Olivier Jean/Reuters

One of the student leaders in Quebec’s tuition fee row has suggested students are “ready for compromise” with the government over increases in university education.

Leo Bureau-Blouin, president of Quebec’s college student federation, made the comments in an interview with Canada‘s national public broadcaster on Saturday.

But in an interview with the Guardian, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesman of Classe, one of the other two student groups involved in the debate, said it was “not true” that students would begin to compromise before an offer had been made by the government.

The disagreement reflects some of the intricate politics involved in the tuition fee debate in Quebec, with the government negotiating with three different student organisations, including Bureau-Blouin’s official student organisation FECQ and Nadeau-Dubois’s larger Classe.

Bureau-Blouin, whose term as president of FECQ ends on 1 June, made his comments in an interview with CBC radio’s ‘This House’ programme, which aired on Saturday.

“We are ready for a compromise — and if the Quebec government is ready for it too, I think we can come to something,” he said.

“If the Quebec government agreed to move on the amount of the tuition fee hike, I think it would be a great step in the right direction.”

The FECQ, which represents 80,000 people enrolled in CEGEP, or Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel, is one of three organisations involved in negotiations. Its counterpart, Quebec’s university student federation, represents some 125,000 students, with Classe, which has the long term aim of free university education in Quebec, having a further 100,000.

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