Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Students Signal They Could Be Ready to Compromise on Tuition Increases: Quebec Students Prepared to Negotiate

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Students Signal They Could Be Ready to Compromise on Tuition Increases: Quebec Students Prepared to Negotiate

Article excerpt

MONTREAL - Quebec student leaders signalled on Saturday they may be ready to compromise on the core of their dispute with the government -- the province's plan to raise tuition fees.

That didn't stop thousands from taking to the streets of Montreal for a 33rd night in a row in a protest that again made it clear the conflict has moved way beyond the issue of education.

One student leader, Martine Desjardins, said both sides must be prepared to compromise for the months-long crisis to be resolved.

Another, Leo Bureau-Blouin, made headlines on Saturday when he told CBC Radio he would be willing to accept some form of tuition increase. Later in the day Bureau-Blouin tried to clarify his comments, saying the students were willing to make adjustments if the government was prepared to do so as well.

"If the government is prepared to move, there could be an area where we can find common ground," he told The Canadian Press.

Leaders of Quebec's three main student associations could meet the province's education minister as early as Monday.

While the proposed hikes would still leave Quebec with some of the lowest tuition rates in Canada, the issue has flared into a clash of ideologies that goes beyond the debate over education.

The nightly demonstrations continued Saturday with thousands of people pouring into the streets of Montreal, with several neighbourhood protests around the city. The focus at the marches has shifted from the proposed tuition increases to Bill 78, Quebec's controversial emergency law designed to limit the scope of student demonstrations.

One protester said he isn't necessarily opposed to the tuition increases, but feels the government has gone too far in its efforts to end to the conflict.

"Everybody has to stand up at this point," said Mark Sabourin, 26, who drove from the suburbs for the demonstration with his wife and three kids.

"I believe what they're fighting for is deeper now. It's about the law, it's about the government's tactics, it's about taking back the streets."

The mood was festive Saturday, and the crowd included many families, as people again banged on pots and pans. …

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