Students armed with picket signs and music marched outside Trois-Rivieres’ Delta Hotel Saturday urging Prime Minister Paul Martin to keep his electoral promise to reinvest in post-secondary education.
On Sept. 10, the Young Liberals of Canada (YLC) and 350 delegates from across Quebec met with Prime Minister Martin for a question-and-answer period. The conference was divided into four sections that included social issues, economy, environment, and Canada’s place in the World. During the social issues portion of the congress, the YLC passed a notion to propose a $4 billion investment in post-secondary education.
“During last year’s election, Prime Minister Martin promised to reinvest $8 billion but nothing’s been done,” said the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) Communications and Research Coordinator Tim McSorley. “Schools have spoken out and now we’re directly addressing the issue.”
According to McSorley, federal funding for higher education has dropped 40 per cent since 1992. Now students want the Liberal government to meet the same funding standards that universities and CEGEPs’ received 13 years ago.
At 10:00 a.m., 100 students from across Quebec and 30 students from Concordia met in Trois-Rivieres for the rally. Once there, organizers encouraged students to make noise outside of the hotel in order to gain attention.
“We heard Paul Martin avoided the education question but we are happy a motion was passed because now the issue must be addressed,” McSorley said.
The YLC’s resolutions must now wait until November, where they will be defended at the Liberal Party convention.
CSU VP Campaigns, Katherine Boushel, described the protest as “more of a soft rally” but believes these types of events are necessary to reinforce thier negotiating position.
“We went because of the idea to look Paul Martin in the face and tell him that we didn’t spend all of our time last year for nothing,” Boushel said. “Allocating the $4 billion to post-secondary education is a must.”
President of the Young Liberals of Canada in Quebec, Brigitte Legault, described the conference positively.
“We had a total of 24 resolutions and are very happy with the outcomes,” she said.
Legault said the congress’ numerous workshops also provided the YLC with the opportunity to renew their policies.
“We’ve had a lot of shifting around lately so the congress let us all sit down and discuss policy,” Legault said. “Members chose what they liked and we’ll take it from there.”
For now, Concordia and other Canadian university students must also take it from there and wait for the November party convention.