Throughout Quebec, CÉGEP and university students are organizing for action against the Liberal government of Jean Charest.
A series of student assemblies have taken place in recent weeks on the possibility of launching an unlimited general student strike throughout the province. The Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ), a coalition of student unions in Quebec representing approximately 40,000 students, is pushing for province-wide action.
"Multiple student associations have voted for an unlimited strike, including eight major student associations representing approximately 16,000 students in Quebec," explains Marianita Hamel, an organizer on the executive council of ASSÉ.
Quebec’s student movement remains a vital social and political force. In 2005, students throughout the province staged an unlimited general strike lasting for months.
After a series of major street demonstrations, students halted Liberal government efforts to change a $103-million provincial student grant program into a loan program. According to ASSÉ, the removal of millions from Quebec’s student grant program would have led to nearly a doubling of the debt of the poorest students in the province.
ASSÉ’s current efforts to push for strike action in Quebec is rooted in multiple demands, including the continued freeze on student tuition in Quebec and also the overarching principled demand for free access to post-secondary education in Quebec.
"Charest’s vision of post-secondary education is rooted in an idea that education is a product to be bought and sold," explains Hubert Gendron-Blais, the media spokesperson for ASSÉ.
"The Liberal government of Quebec views education as a personal investment for future employment, not as a path for personal and social development for the betterment for all society," he continues. "In ASSÉ our vision of education is totally the opposite, as we believe that education is a collective right which should be accessible to everyone, if you can pay or if you can’t pay the economic price."
For full details on ASSÉ, visit: www.asse-solidarite.qc.ca.