Quebec’s student strike, the longest ever in the province’s story, has now entered a crucial week without any resolution in view. The strike has dragged for eight weeks now, gathering almost half of the university and college population in the province against a $1,625 tuition hike ($325 a year for five years) proposed by the provincial government, which said Monday there are no talks scheduled to discuss the impasse. The Université de Montréal sent an email last week to its student body, telling them to return to class by Tuesday or face a lost semester, which can only be extended to June 15.
But the students have planned even more protests this week. On Monday, more than 1,000 gathered in downtown Montreal, in a movement the Quebec Federation of College Students (FECQ) and other student organizations are now calling the “Quebec Spring,” alluding to the sweeping revolutions that shook the Arab world last year. According to the Montreal Gazette, the students are also planning to launch a 12-hour protest on Wednesday against the tuition stalemate, and CTV reported a long march is planned for Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the provincial Liberal government, which is pushing the tuition increase.
The protests continue in Quebec, where tuition fees are the lowest in Canada (even with the proposed increase), in spite of court injunctions mandating picket lines to be dismantled and a recent offer from the government to implement changes to student loans, pegging them to the income of students and parents.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012