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ASSÉ to boycott PQ Summit

Evan Johnston

February 23, 2013

The Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) announced mid-February that it will be boycotting the Parti québécois (PQ) government's upcoming summit on post-secondary education. ASSÉ, the most militant student union which now represents over 70,000 students, will instead be organizing a general strike on the day of the summit, February 25, and more mass protests the following day.
Holding a summit on the future of post-secondary education was one of the major promises made to students by the PQ during the course of the recent 2012 Quebec election. However, just as many critics expected--which was anticipated from the PQ's first 50 days in office--the range of options to be discussed at the summit will be severely restricted.
Both Marois and her Minister of Higher Education, Pierre Duchesne, have rejected any proposal for discussing free tuition, which has been one of ASSÉ’s central demands. Former CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois has described the summit as “a mere public relations operation aimed at pasting a veneer of political legitimacy on a decision already taken—to index tuition fees and continue with the quiet privatization of the universities.”
The electoral defeat of Liberal premier Jean Charest—whose government introduced the 75 per cent tuition fee hike that ignited the student strike, and the “emergency law” Bill 78 that attempted to contain it—was a huge win for the student movement in Quebec. At the same time, the election had the effect of temporarily demobilizing many in the movement, as the confusion over how to connect the politics of the streets with the ballot box led many to take a step back as the elections unfolded.
Many mainstream commentators have delighted in repeatedly announcing the “end” of student agitation. But the recent debate over the nature of the summit, and the upcoming mobilization, is a clear sign that there is much still to come in the fight for free post-secondary education. 

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