New Quebec education minister meets with student leaders
'We know that this is a crisis,' says FEUQ president Martine Desjardins
Representatives of Quebec's striking student federations say they are "relatively satisfied," after getting reassurances from the newly appointed minister that the channels of communication are open.
Education Minister Michelle Courchesne met leaders of the four main student groups in Quebec City Tuesday shortly after 6 p.m. The meeting ended one hour 45 minutes later.
Student leaders said they went over their positions and the compromises each was prepared to make, and Courchesne promised to present their case to Wednesday's cabinet meeting of the Charest government.
"Mrs. Courchesne didn't commit herself [on] anything," said Léo Bureau-Blouin, president of FECQ, the federation representing Quebec's college students. "But we hope that the council of ministers is going to be open to our compromises."
Bureau-Blouin did not go into detail of what those compromises might be, but FEUQ president Martine Desjardins said a moratorium on the tuition fee hikes, as opposition parties have called for, is among the options.
"We know that this is a crisis," said Desjardins, whose group represents university students. "We need to solve this crisis very soon."
"Everybody is working hard to find a solution. It's been 14 weeks," she said. "Everybody needs to go back to school very quickly. We know that. And the ministry also [knows that]."
A representative of the more militant group CLASSE, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, described the discussions as "cordial."
"We also unblocked certain channels of communication that had perhaps been blocked by some misunderstandings with Madame Beauchamp," he said, in reference to the former education minister who quit politics in a surprise move on Monday.
Jeanne Reynolds, another spokesperson for CLASSE, said Courchesne had assured the students she has no intention of seeing the semester cancelled, and she nixed rumours that striking students could receive automatic failures.
"We find that very reassuring," Reynolds said.
"Like us, the minister seems to agree injunctions are not the solution to solve the current crisis," she added. "Obviously we were very happy to hear that."
A media attaché sent word to reporters that Courchesne would not be commenting Tuesday evening.
Earlier Tuesday, she met university and college administrators to get their views on the crisis.