At a press conference on Monday, April 23, Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp addresses the truce made with protesting Quebec student groups.
Credits: JEAN-FRANCOIS DESGAGNES/QMI AGENCY
Education Minister Line Beauchamp said she would only sit down with students if they agreed to a 48-hour truce. Two moderate associations agreed to her conditions.
The more radical CLASSE association refused to say that it would accept the truce but wiggled around the matter by saying its protest calendar had not included any disruptions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
It was the first time Beauchamp agreed to discuss issues surrounding the five-year, $1,625 tuition increase that triggered the strike on Feb. 14.
However, the minister did not commit to rescinding the hike itself.
"We intend to be firm on the issue of tuition," she told reporters in Quebec City. "I think a good subject for discussion is whether this increase prevents students from having access to (post-secondary) studies. Let's talk about it."
The discussions began late Monday afternoon and could continue until Tuesday.
About 170,000 community college and university students have missed class time this semester to stage marches and blockades.
Schools have warned that demonstrators' semesters are in jeopardy and at least two students have obtained court orders to cross picket lines.
The relentless barrage of protests in every major Quebec City has exasperated public officials and sent police overtime costs soaring.
A pair of demonstrations in Montreal Friday was the most violent since the strike began.
Protesters pelted police officers with bricks, rocks, and bottles and tried to storm a building where Premier Jean Charest was speaking.
Officers responded with stun grenades, pepper spray and batons, making more than a dozen arrests.