Quebec student strikes may extend past 2-week run

With support from at least 30,000 students in Montreal, Quebec City and Chicoutimi, student groups say the coming student strike beginning March 21 could be extended past its initial two-week run.

Associations are pushing an anti-austerity message aimed at Quebec's Liberal government

Stéphanie Thibodeau, a member of UQAM's Education faculty student association, explains that student associations may vote to extend the strike past its two-week run beginning on March 21. (Rebecca Ugolini/CBC News)

Student strikes planned for later this month against the Quebec government's austerity measures could be extended indefinitely if enough votes are cast in favour of prolonged action, say student associations in Montreal.

A demonstration planned for March 21 at Montreal's Place Émilie-Gamelin will kick off two weeks of student strikes and protests.

Demonstrations will be held there every following Saturday for as long as the strike continues. 

"Austerity measures affect the whole population," said Charlotte Gilbert, a member of the UQÀM Social Science faculty student association. 

"We believe that nobody should be left behind. A social strike is the only way to combat austerity." 

A snarling wolf is one of the images appropriated by Printemps 2015, one of the groups organizing student protests that kick off on Saturday, March 21st in downtown Montreal. (Printemps 2015 demonstration material )

Students call for public's participation

Organizers are hoping to replicate the massive appeal of 2012's Maple Spring protests, which garnered participation from members of society who were not students or university faculty.

Unlike in 2012, however, tuition-free schooling is not a major focus this year.

"We don't want this to be just a student movement," Gilbert said.

"We are calling on this to be a social movement that brings together militants from local unions, students, and collectives and community groups from across Quebec."

Mass support means strike may extend

Roughly 30,000 students from 25 associations in Montreal, Quebec City and Chicoutimi have voted in favour of the strike, including associations from Université de Montréal​ and Université du Québec à Montréal, according to the powerful student union group ASSÉ. 

Concordia University's political science student association is set to vote on March 23rd to determine whether they will approve a one-week strike. 

After April 7, student associations will vote regularly to determine whether the strike should be prolonged. 

"We are going to have another general assembly after the two weeks, to see what students think about the situation, and if we want to go further into this fight," said Stéphanie Thibodeau, a member of UQÀM's education faculty student association.


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