Friday, June 1, 2012

No end in sight for Canada student protests as tuition talks collapse

Students protesting tuition fee increases on May 30, 2012 in Montreal

Source: Press TV

Canada’s eastern province of Quebec is bracing for more mass demonstrations as talks between students and the provincial authorities aimed at ending months of anti-tuition hikes protests were deadlocked.

Four days of talks over the proposed tuition fee rises reached an impasse on Thursday after Premier Jean Charest’s government walked away from the negotiating table and refused to change its plan to increase university fees.

The talks were considered as the provincial government’s last chance for an immediate resolution to end the mass demonstrations that has swept across the country for about four months.

Student unions have asked for a tuition freeze but the government has ruled it out and passed an anti-protest law to limit student demonstrations across the province.

Student union leaders believed that the government had no intention to compromise with students to end the conflict, and that Minister of Education Michelle Courchesne only used the students as pawns in a political game.

“The Minister of Education said that for political reasons she could not accept a freeze on tuition fees,” spokesman for the student group CLASSE, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, said.

“The government is using the youth to make political gains. They only wanted to sit us down for a public relations move, for a political move, not to negotiate,” said Martine Desjardins, president of the Quebec federation of university students.

The student groups then called on students to pour into the streets of Montreal again on Saturday to voice their opposition to the government’s plans.

Over 2,500 people have been arrested since student protests began in February at over a dozen colleges and universities in Quebec.

The protests against tuition hikes spread throughout the country.

Thousands of people marched in Toronto On Wednesday in solidarity with protesters in Quebec.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International called on Quebec authorities to rescind the emergency law, which outlines strict regulations for demonstrations and conditions of heavy fines for students and their federations.

Two United Nations special reporters also voiced concerns on Wednesday, urging “federal and provincial governments of Canada and Quebec to fully respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students affected by two new legislations.”

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