PQ losing street cred with students



MONTREAL — The Parti Quebecois is quickly learning what it’s like to negotiate with the new generation of Quebec students.

The PQ was ridiculed by rival parties during the September election campaign for supporting the student strike. The PQ bested its rivals and won the election, partly by promising to cancel the Quebec Liberal Party-imposed tuition increase and to hold a so-called summit on education.

However, about a year after the student strike began, one of the largest student federations announced Thursday it was refusing to attend the summit.

Association pour une solidarite syndicale etudiante (ASSE), which garnered a reputation for representing the most militant students in the province during the strike, said the government wasn’t taking its demand for free tuition seriously.

The PQ favours indexing tuition to the cost of living.

ASSE is organizing a protest in downtown Montreal for Feb. 26, in conjunction with the summit.

When thousands of students and their supporters marched nightly through the streets of Montreal, banging pots and pans, then-Premier Jean Charest warned Marois against acquiescing to street protests.

“Ms. Marois is the street,” Charest told reporters last year.

Now it seems the street is slowly turning against Marois.

ASSE spokeswoman Blandine Parchemal said earlier this week that student unions have begun holding votes to go on strike on Feb. 26 and ASSE is receiving support from non-student unions and
other civil society groups.

“We look at (the strike votes and outside support) as the beginning of a new balance of power against the government,” she said.

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