Quebec Premier Marois struggles to satisfy students at education summit

Quebec Premier Marois



MONTREAL - The Parti Quebecois bent over backwards to accommodate window-smashing students while in opposition, but that hasn't bought them any peace in the streets as the party kicked off an education summit Monday.

Vandals made their views known hours before the start of the two-day meeting that brings together Premier Pauline Marois, unions, university officials and moderate student groups.

The education ministry building and offices of several MNAs in Montreal, including Quebec Education Minister Pierre Duchesne, were splattered with red paint.

The colour red is emblematic of Quebec's student movement.

Perhaps the most noteworthy vandalism target was the office of Leo Bureau-Blouin, one of the faces of Quebec's student movement before he was elected as a PQ MNA in September. Some of his radical ex-colleagues see him as a traitor to their cause.

A number of radical groups boycotted the education summit because Marois won't promise to abolish tuition in Quebec.

She instead wants universities to swallow $250 million in cuts, drawing the ire of principals and rectors who say quality of education will suffer.

In the opening speech at the summit on Monday morning, Marois urged participants to focus on "what unites us."

"The summit is an opportunity to establish a dialogue," she said.

As she spoke, two small groups of demonstrators, including some who wore masks, converged at the summit site south of downtown.

The protest was peaceful, unlike the social upheaval last year that led to thousand of arrests, made international headlines and led to the demise of Jean Charest's Liberal government.

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