Strike spark ignites

Students gather to discuss the possibility of a general strike against the upcoming tuition increases

By: Cindy Antonacci Tardif

Francophone CEGEPs and university students from all over Quebec gathered at CEGEP du Vieux Montréal on Sept. 23 to attend a general meeting regarding the prospects of a plan of action against the $200 increase on university tuition fees due fall of 2012. The meeting was inconclusive.

Chaired by l’Association Générale des Etudiants de Bois-de- Boulogne (AGEBdeB) employee Marie-Eve Ruel, the meeting lasted less than three hours and was attended by approximately 100 students.

Anglophone students were sparse: Alejandra Mocita Zaga Mendez, from McGill University, was the only student from an English school board to speak out during the debates. Mendez pointed out that the majority of the people in the audience were confused about what the topic of the meeting was.

Titled Assemblée public pour un plan d’action de grève générale illimité, the meeting presentation and name misled its audience. Ruel explained that this particular assembly was about assessing people’s reactions to the 2012 budget that was imposed last March 30 by Minister of Finances, Raymond Bachand. Ruel further explained that the agenda shown on the projector was just a loose outline of what people could discuss.

The meeting led on without any progress. All the students could agree on the upcoming strike, which would hopefully be as successfully supported as the student strike of 2005.
Brenda Branswell wrote in The Gazette of Feb. 25, 2005: “Student association officials said about 30,000 students are now on strike from more than a dozen student associations and faculties at francophone CEGEPs and universities.”

Reassuring the crowd was L’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Etudiante (ASSÉ) spoke-person Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois whom appeared at the microphone more than once during the discussions.

Sitting next to Ruel was assembly coordinator Keena Grégoire, from AGEBdeB. Gregoire organized the meeting for the mobilization committee of l’ASSÉ.
“L’idée de l’assemblée d’aujourd’hui c’est parce que tout le monde se rende compte que face au budget qui est arrivé il a eu une importance de lutter actuellement et de s’organiser,” Grégoire explained.

In a sign of support, the majority of the students present were sporting a red felt square, a symbol that dates from the 2005 student movement strike.
Louis Laramée, a Social Sciences student at CEGEP de Sherbrooke, explained that although the symbol dates from 2005, it continues to apply to the current situation because the goal for free education has yet to be accomplished. “Un carre rouge pour les étudiants en rouge,” he specified.

The meeting was forced to be ajourned at 10:10 p.m. due to loss of quorum. No further meeting date was specified.

Many anglophone student unions were invited to the event including the Dawson Student Union (DSU), none of whom attended. When questioned on the reason of their absence, DSU Deputy Chairperson Amanda Arella replied: “ …we were unable to meet as an executive beforehand to discuss [the meeting at CEGEP du Vieux Montreal], so as a result no one from the DSU attended.”

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