Saying his organization "needs fresh faces," Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois announced late Wednesday night he is stepping down as co-spokesperson of CLASSE, the more militant of Quebec's major student associations.
Nadeau-Dubois said the students' fight against the government's plan to raise tuition fees 75 per cent has entered a new phase, as they vote whether to continue their strike and classes prepare to resume early to make up last winter's cancelled session.
"It's a phase that calls for renewal: It's time for me to go. I've done my bit as co-spokesperson. It's time for others to take over," he wrote in a letter to CLASSE members published in Thursday's edition of Le Devoir.
In an interview recorded Wednesday morning with CBC News to air today, Nadeau-Dubois made no mention of his pending resignation but did say he would not be entering the Quebec election race as a candidate for any party. He criticized fellow former student leader Léo Bureau-Blouin, who completed his term as head of the province's CEGEP student federation in June, for running for the Parti Québécois.
"A lot of students are uncomfortable with his decision," Nadeau-Dubois told the Quebec City morning radio show Quebec AM.
"I think it's OK that students want to go into politics. But we think that it's very important to take time between your implication in the student movement and your implication in politics, to make sure that the independence between the student movement and the political parties is maintained."
Wider fight than just tuition
Nadeau-Dubois's resignation letter says he is motivated neither by bitterness nor disappointment, and feels it is more important than ever that students keep up the mass mobilization they launched six months ago.
"The climate of political and social unrest that we've helped bring to Quebec must absolutely continue over the coming months and years."
His one regret: leaving office "while Quebec is still run by Jean Charest."
"Shale gas, corruption, Anticosti, Mount Orford, tuition fee hikes, the health tax: The list of deceptions, of lies, of scandals and of attacks on the public by this government is too long," he writes, saying the issues are much wider than just the fight against university fee increases.
CLASSE will hold an assembly over the weekend to decide whether to fill Nadeau-Dubois's vacated position. The student association still has two other spokespeople, Jeanne Reynolds and Camille Robert.
CLASSE, which stands for the Coalition large de l'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (Broad Coalition of the Association for Student Union Solidarity), represents 65 university and CEGEP student associations with a total of 101,000 members.