Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Three Legal Fights and a Bomb Threat: Quebec Student Strikes Reach Fork in Road: Quebec Students Grapple with Question: What Now?

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Three Legal Fights and a Bomb Threat: Quebec Student Strikes Reach Fork in Road: Quebec Students Grapple with Question: What Now?

Article excerpt

QUEBEC - After weeks of battle against the Quebec government, public rifts are increasingly emerging within the province's restless student ranks.

A season of anti-tuition protests, featuring red-clad students marching in unison, has given way to more divisive scenes as the semester winds down.

Now there are legal fights and, on Tuesday, even a bomb threat that cleared out one school.

The latest developments centre on one general question: Should striking students go back to class, or continue mass walkouts and risk having their semester extended or cancelled?

Several students have taken legal action in recent days to force an immediate reopening of their classrooms, with one such move finding success in Alma, Que., one failing in Montreal, and there was one mixed result Tuesday in Quebec City.

There has been a chaotic response this week after a court ordered the reopening of a junior college in Alma, with students now struggling over how to respond. Some students have stacked up piles of desks in protest, others have urged peers to leave their classrooms and, on Tuesday, the school had to be evacuated after someone reported a bomb threat.

One student-group spokesman blames the government for these problems. If only the government would sit down and negotiate with the protest groups, he says, such scuffles wouldn't be happening.

Because the government refused to meet with student leaders, and ignored the will expressed in peaceful protests, he said some young people are now starting to "radicalize."

"If we want to ease tensions, the government needs to sit down at a discussion table with student associations, so that this doesn't transform into a social crisis," said Leo Bureau-Blouin.

"This (situation) clearly risks creating conflicts among students -- and we, on the contrary, want to avoid them."

Meanwhile Tuesday, a university student in Quebec City became the latest to file a court challenge against the protest movement; he won an injunction to have one of his classrooms reopened.

Laurent Proulx convinced a Quebec Superior court judge that the strikes, declared by various student associations after votes at public assemblies, should not be able to keep him from going to one of his classes.

The court granted him an injunction that reopened an anthropology class he's enrolled in at Laval University in Quebec City.

His University Laval class -- titled "Anthropology of conflicts and violence" -- had been shut down since Feb. 14.

When Proulx returned to class Tuesday afternoon, he was not obstructed physically but he was subjected to taunts from fellow students who accused him of selfishly selling out their cause. Standing in the hallway, a crowd of students chanted, "Me! Me! Me!" after he walked in. Other pro-strike students filled the classroom, and some blocked or shoved media members trying to get images. …

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