Details over the government’s planned summit on higher education remain elusive as the gulf widened between the three main student unions on Saturday.
The Fédération étudiante universaitaire du Québec (FEUQ) and the the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) have closely aligned themselves with the new government of Pauline Marois, and both hailed its victory on September 4 as a conclusive moment for the student movement.
The more radical Coalition Large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE), however, has thus far been cautious about declaring any sort of decisive victory for the movement.
CLASSE co-spokesperson Jeanne Reynolds told The Daily that newly appointed Minister of Higher Education Pierre Duchesne had yet to respond to a request for a meeting with the student association.
“The [choice of Duchesne as minister] is of little importance for us,” she said in French. “His political beliefs matter; we know that he’s a former journalist with Radio-Canada, but we have yet to meet him.”
Renyolds added that CLASSE was not in “regular contact” with the government.
Meanwhile, FEUQ President Martine Desjardins told The Daily that she spoke with Duchesne last Thursday night and that a meeting was planned this week.
“Our goal is to make sure that the government isn’t coming up with the framework [for the summit] by itself,” she said in French. “We are going to ask the minister for a committee to work out the details.”
Desjardins said that FEUQ and FECQ adopted a roadmap for the year ahead and held joint press conferences in Quebec City throughout last week.
FECQ spokesperson Nicolas Groulx told The Daily that his association had also received an invitation to the meeting.
Only CLASSE remains in the dark.
Asked about its differences with FEUQ and FECQ, Reynolds said that CLASSE has distinct “action plans” and “demands.”
“The only time [FECQ, FEUQ and CLASSE] worked together was during the negotiations,” she added.
The contrast in strategy was made even clearer last Saturday when neither FEUQ nor FECQ answered CLASSE’s call for a nationwide day of protest. CLASSE has organized a protest for the 22nd of this month.
Unlike CLASSE, FEUQ, and FECQ do not advocate for free education.
“Students can go on their own terms,” Groulx said in French. “But we don’t see the point in being [at the protest] as an organization when the tuition hikes have been cancelled.”
“We have disagreements [with CLASSE],” said Desjardins.
Desjardins said she believed it was more effective to put pressure on “the people in power through debates and discussion” rather than protesting on the streets.
CLASSE, however, vowed to continue to mobilize.
“We mustn’t be afraid to say that we succeeded, and that we will continue to fight as long as regressive politics are in place,” Reynolds said. “It’s only by addressing the question of free education that we will solve this issue.”