On April 22, the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale etudiante unanimously voted to denounce deliberate acts of violence by student protesters and was allowed to enter negotiations.
However, tentative talks between student groups and the province fell apart after Education Minister Line Beauchamp banned the CLASSE once again from joining the discussion.
The minister’s decision came on April 25 in response to a violent student demonstration that took place the previous night. Though the CLASSE stated they did not organize the protest, Beauchamp said they were responsible in part for announcing the demonstration on their website.
As a result, the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec and the Fédération étudiante collègiale du Québec have abandoned
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On Tuesday, the Concordia Student Union voted on a symbolic motion to support the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec’s decision to stand in solidarity with another student group, during a special CSU meeting regarding negotiations with the government.
Education Minister Line Beauchamp offered to speak with the FEUQ and the Fédération étudiante collègiale du Québec on Sunday, after the FEUQ requested an independent government commission to investigate university management.
Beauchamp made it clear that there would be no discussion of the incoming tuition hike at the meeting, and that the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale etudiante would not be invited.
The CSU decided in a unanimous motion that it will only support negotiations between the provincial government and the student leaders if all student associations are invited.
Following a presentation by CSU President Lex Gill, the special council meeting was quickly voted into a committee of the whole, allowing for more informal dialogue and an open discussion for those present at the meeting.
Gill emphasized that at the last FEUQ meeting it was clear they were not willing to engage in negotiations without the CLASSE, who has been very active throughout the year in the fight against tuition increases.
“There is a consensus at the CSU that the CLASSE should be at that table as well,” said Gill.
Beauchamp stated earlier in the week that she would only extend an invitation to the CLASSE if the student association agreed to condemn acts of violence and vandalism as means of protest. CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said at a press conference held April 16 that while the association does not associate itself with these acts, it cannot condemn them. Nadeau-Dubois said the CLASSE would not change its position without consulting its members first.
“We find it unacceptable that our coalition, which represents 47 per cent of the people on strike right now, is being rejected from the negotiation process,” said Nadeau-Dubois on Monday. “If our coalition is not part of the solution, there won’t be any actual solution to the student strike.”
More protests are underway this week. On April 19, a morning demonstration is planned for the downtown core. That same day in Gatineau, students will be protesting the injunctions ordered against striking students at L’Université du Québec en Outaouais. On Sunday April 22, students will join in what is expected to be a large march coinciding with Earth Day.
With files from Sarah Deshaies and Marilla Steuter-Martin.