PQ calls for tuition protest truce

Star candidate and former student leader urges young people to foster a peaceful campaign climate, or risk favouring the Liberals.
Star Parti Québécois candidate Léo Bureau-Blouin, flanked by leader Pauline Marois, wants a 'peaceful' campaign climate. (Radio-Canada)

Star Parti Québécois candidate Léo Bureau-Blouin is calling for a truce in the ongoing tuition protest during the provinicial election campaign.

The former student leader urged his young cohorts to help foster a "peaceful climate" during the campaign.

It's not a question of muzzling students opposed to tuition hikes, but ensuring a proper election campaign can unfold, Bureau-Blouin said at a PQ rally in Laval.

"I think we have to find a way to have a peaceful climate, and that's why I suggest an election truce. We have to take all precautions to not favour the Liberals."

The former spokesman for Quebec college association FECQ waded into the divisive tuition issue as party leader Pauline Marois promised to eliminate scheduled fee increases.

Marois said she'd call a summit on how to better fund universities if she won the Sept. 4 election.

She also promised that if the summit recommended raising tuition fees, a PQ government would keep the increases indexed to inflation.

A PQ government would also cancel the Liberals' controversial emergency protest law, Bill 78, adopted in May to quell ongoing student protests.

Quebec's student movement has been protesting since the winter against annual $254 tuition increases, brought in by the Liberal government under jean Charest.

After a brief lull with the onset of summer, supporters of the movement once again marched in large numbers through Montreal on Wednesday night. The demonstration ended in tussles with police and more than a dozen arrests, as previous protests have.

Liberals using tuition protest to 'mask their record': PQ

The Liberal Party is casting its refusal to back down on tuition increases as a principled stand for law and order.

Several polls have suggested a majority of Quebecers support the increases.

Marois accused Charest of playing partisan politics on the tuition issue, in the hopes that public unrest will yield more electoral support for the Liberals.

"I'm sorry, but Mr. Charest is profoundly responsible for what is going on right now," she said Thursday.

"The Liberals decided to use this conflict to mask their record. It's a cynical and premeditated attempt to manipulate public opinion."

The PQ's plan adopts many of the measures that are being called for by the more moderate student groups who are on strike.

With files from the Canadian Press