Students boost pressure on Quebec election candidates

Quebec's political parties are offering solutions to the ongoing student crisis should their party rise to power in the upcoming election.
So far, the few student vote results gathered point toward continuing the strike. (Radio-Canada)

Quebec's political parties are offering solutions to the ongoing student crisis should their party rise to power in the upcoming election.

Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois said she hopes all students will return to class to finish their semester but respects the students' right to vote to continue the strike over an increase in tuition fees.

"I want students to be able to study, and I want Bill 78 to be respected – though it's ignoble and has been condemned by the Quebec Human Rights Commission. We live under the rule of law and we have to respect the law," she said.

"I'm the leader of the official opposition. We have a premier – and he's the one who has the key to a solution. I've got as far as I can. It's up to him – the one who hasn't solved this crisis – to find a solution. I think he's actually tried to exploit this crisis and that's sad for Quebecers. Mr. Charest has all the responsibility for this conflict that's dragged on."

This week, student associations are urging students to put more pressure on political parties during the provincial election.

Charest continues to say what he plans to do if students vote to continue striking and picket outside post-secondary institutions.

Jean Charest made a truce with CEGEP teachers on Tuesday. (CBC)

"I don't want to deal with hypothetical situations any more than before. We've made progress, we're moving forward. Let's give everyone a chance to get back [to classes], and if there are particular cases that arise, we'll deal with them then."

So far, the votes accumulated on Monday and Tuesday by student associations point towards an agitated first day for CEGEP college and university students.

The college federation maintains that classes will go as scheduled and students who fail to attend could fail their courses.

Students in human sciences at UQAM and social services students at University of Montreal have voted to continue the strike on Tuesday. Students in communications at University of Sherbrooke also voted in favour of continuing the strike on Monday.

On Tuesday, Liberal Leader Jean Charest made a truce with CEGEP instructors to alleviate the workload that would come with restarting the winter semesters that were cut off by the student crisis.

Charest said he wants to add 180 additional instructors to help the current ones with their course loads. Fourteen of 48 CEGEPS in the province had to cut their winter semesters short.

Bill 78 had suspended the winter term and postponed it to Aug. 17 until Sept. 30. The law forces educational establishments that did not finish their terms to hold semesters that are 82 days long.

The Liberal leader made this deal after some university and college professors warned that they may keep staying away from classes if students voted in favour of maintaining their stance.

Nearly 200 professors met on Monday at the University of Montreal and introduced a petition signed by over 2,000 teachers in solidarity with the student associations.

François Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec, said it was "unacceptable" that a teacher who continues to receive salary would refuse to show up at work in solidarity with the student movement.

He added that a CAQ government would fine the teachers or even fire them if necessary.

Though professors are now expected to return to work, students may still decide to stay away.

College and university student associations are holding general assemblies to continue with the strike vote.

CEGEP General assemblies



Aug. 8, 11 a.m.


Aug. 8, 6 p.m.
André-Laurendeau Aug. 9, 10 a.m.
Saint-Laurent Aug. 11, 11 a.m.
Marie-Victorin Aug. 13, 10 a.m.
Maisonneuve Aug. 13, 12 p.m.
Édouard-Montpetit Aug. 13, 12 p.m.
Vieux-Montréal Aug. 13, 5 p.m.
Lionel-Groulx Aug. 14, 7 p.m.
Bois-de-Boulogne Aug. 16, 10 p.m.
Ahunstic To be determined
Montmorency To be determined
Rosemont To be determined
Saint-Hyacinthe To be determined

*Most universities are determining when they will be holding general assemblies.