Quebec students likely to continue strike (UPDATES)


Riot police confront students during a protest April 26, 2012, in Montreal over Quebec's plans to raise tuition. Despite the growing unrest, the government of the French-speaking Canadian province has refused to meet with student groups behind 11 weeks of protests, after talks broken down earlier in the week.



UPDATE (April 29, 2011): Quebec's largest and most militant student group, CLASSE, has voted to reject the provincial government's offer to stretch tuition increases over seven years rather than five, CBC News reported.

"The tuition hike is still there," CLASSE spokeswoman Jeanne Reynolds told CBC News. "We are questioning the legitimacy of the increase, and there hasn't been any compromise on that."

Delegates from the Quebec's college and university students associations (FECQ and FEUQ) were still considering the proposal, according to CBC News.

However, Quebec’s striking student leaders said Saturday that they expect members to reject the government’s latest offer, The Canadian Press reported. 

Students have held near-daily protests for 11 weeks in reaction to the provincial government’s planned tuition hikes.

On Friday, police arrested 35 in Montreal after students – largely represented by three larger unions –staged “it’s not an offer, it’s an insult” marches.

Three more protests across Quebec were scheduled Saturday.

The government is attempting to control its finances, and wants to raise tuition $325 per year for five years.

With the proposed $1,625 increase, Quebec university fees would still be the lowest in Canada.

One student group leader suggested many had already passed judgement on the proposal to phase increases over seven years.

“We need to look more closely at the offer, and perhaps submit a counter-offer,” Martine Desjardins told CP.

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The Quebec government also proposed nearly $40 million more in bursaries, easing student loan repayment plans and scrutiny of universities and tution increases going forward, CBC News reported. 

Students counter that Quebec is defined by its access to affordable higher education.

They also pledged to keep their protests peaceful after earlier marches turned violent.

“I saw earlier there were two broken windows, and the people who did these acts were booed by the demonstrators,” student Nicolas Dagenais told CBC.

The Quebec Liberal Party has announced it will not hold its annual convention in Montreal next week because of student protests, CBC News reported.

However, still more of the 180,000 students involved in the “strike” are asking for more from the government and Premier Jean Charest, Postmedia News reported. 

“He hasn’t really made an effort to sit down and listen to the students,” student Marc Thibaud told Postmedia.

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