Five items enclosed.
1. ‘I leave with only one regret’: Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois resigns as co-spokesperson for CLASSE
By Ethan Cox, Rabble.ca, August 9, 2012
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson for CLASSE and the most recognizable face of the student strike which has captured the imagination of progressives the world over, has resigned.
“I am leaving, but the movement will continue. What I am quitting is not the mobilization, nor the struggle, nor the CLASSE: I am quitting my role as spokesperson. I will remain at your side, in the streets, and in our assemblies.”
Citing the need for “new blood” and “fresh faces” within the CLASSE, and bemoaning the relentless and vicious attacks he and CLASSE have been subjected to by the Charest government, who he said have attempted to paint the student movement, and him in particular, as “terrorists,” he spoke of the need for the popular struggle to renew itself, as it enters a new phase.
In a letter of resignation addressed to “all those who mobilized this spring, and to members of the CLASSE” and released exclusively to Le Devoir earlier this evening, Nadeau-Dubois said he leaves with a sense of accomplishment, and the knowledge that “My colleagues are formidable people, ready to pick up the torch.”
“I leave with only one regret. I regret leaving my role while Quebec is still led by Jean Charest, a Premier who is contemptuous and violent towards Quebec and its youth. Shale gas, corruption, Anticosti, Mount Orford, tuition hikes and the health tax: the list of deception, of lies, of scandals and of attacks against the population perpetrated by this government is so very long.”
“This decision is not motivated by bitterness, nor by despair. On the contrary, I am more convinced than ever of the neccessity of continuing this movement we have built over the last six months… the criticisms raised by the youth of Quebec this spring are far too profound to be resolved in an election campaign of thirty-five days.”
In an exclusive early morning interview with rabble.ca, the CLASSE’s external affairs secretary Keena Gregoire, said “It was an honour for me to work with him. I thank him for all the work he did. But we must continue to look forward. The mobilization will not stop.”
“We are not only challenging a tuition hike,” said Nadeau-Dubois, “we are casting into question schlerotic and corrupt institutions which are in desperate need of help.”
Rumours swirled following his departure that Nadeau-Dubois would follow his former colleague, ex-FECQ president Leo Bureau-Blouin, into the electoral arena. Many asserted that he would stand as a candidate for Quebec Solidaire, the party most closely aligned with the ideals of the student movement.
Those rumours are false, and several independent sources within CLASSE assure rabble that Nadeau-Dubois will not be involved in politics, in any capacity, until the conclusion of the strike.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, another well placed CLASSE source assured rabble that there “is absolutely no distance between Gabriel and CLASSE. What is in his letter is the whole story, there is no falling out, no hidden back story. He will continue to be part of our organization, he will do other work behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Cammille and Jeanne will remain in place as spokespeople.”
In his letter Nadeau-Dubois expressed regret that the media were so fixated on identifying a leader, and seemed incapable of understanding a truly democratic, egalitarian organization like CLASSE.
Details will be added as this story continues to break. Expect an updated article with reaction from other student leaders tomorrow.
Pourquoi je démissionne
Par Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Co-porte-parole de la CLASSE
Lettre publiée dans Le Devoir, 9 août 2012
À tous ceux et celles qui se sont mobilisé-e-s ce printemps,
Aux membres de la CLASSE,
Cette lettre a pour but de vous informer que je quitte mes fonctions de co-porte-parole de la CLASSE. Après près de six mois de lutte à vos côtés, j’ai la conviction que la CLASSE a besoin de nouveaux visages. Après avoir participé à la tournée nationale de la Coalition aux quatre coins du Québec, je sais que notre lutte entre dans une nouvelle étape. Une étape qui nécessite un renouvellement : il est temps pour moi de tirer ma révérence. J’ai fait ma part comme porte-parole, il est maintenant temps que d’autres prennent la relève.
Je pars la tête haute, avec la conviction d’avoir fait mon devoir et d’avoir participé à un mouvement populaire historique. Je suis un étudiant, je suis un militant et c’est à ce titre que je continuerai dorénavant à faire avancer mes idéaux. La CLASSE, avec ou sans moi, continuera à accomplir de grandes choses : je ne suis pas et n’ai jamais été un chef. Par mon départ, je le démontrerai hors de tout doute.
Je pars, mais le mouvement se poursuivra. Ce que je quitte, ce n’est pas la mobilisation, ni la lutte, ni la CLASSE : je quitte mon rôle de porte-parole. Je serai encore à vos côtés, dans la rue et dans les assemblées. Je pars avec le sentiment du devoir accompli, avec le sentiment d’avoir participé à la hauteur de mes capacités à construire cette magnifique mobilisation. La CLASSE a besoin de sang neuf et je sais qu’il y a parmi mes collègues des gens formidables, prêts et prêtes à reprendre le flambeau.
Cette décision n’est ni motivée par l’amertume, ni par le désespoir. Au contraire, je suis plus convaincu que jamais de la nécessité de poursuivre la mobilisation entreprise dans les six derniers mois. Le climat d’ébullition politique et sociale que nous avons contribué à mettre en place au Québec doit impérativement se poursuivre dans les prochains mois et les prochaines années. Les critiques soulevées par la jeunesse québécoise ce printemps sont beaucoup trop profondes pour être réglées par une campagne électorale de 35jours.
Un seul regret
Nous avons posé de graves questions, et les élections ne pourront y répondre entièrement, même advenant la mise au rancart du gouvernement libéral. Nous n’avons pas seulement contesté une hausse des droits de scolarité. Nous avons remis en question des institutions sclérosées et corrompues qui avaient grand besoin de l’être et nous avons contesté le tout-à-l’économie des libéraux.
Je pars avec un seul regret. Je regrette de quitter mes fonctions alors que le Québec est toujours dirigé par Jean Charest, un premier ministre méprisant et violent envers le Québec et sa jeunesse. Gaz de schiste, corruption, Anticosti, Mont-Orford, hausse des droits de scolarité, taxe santé : la liste des tromperies, des mensonges, des scandales et des attaques à la population de ce gouvernement est trop longue.
Et lorsque la jeunesse s’est élevée contre ces absurdités, M.Charest n’a trouvé comme réponse que la dureté des matraques et l’acidité des lacrymogènes. À l’imagination de ma génération, il n’aura répondu que par la répression et le mépris. Devant une mobilisation généreuse et fondée sur des principes, il n’aura répondu que par des attaques personnelles et dégradantes.
Depuis le début de notre grève, il n’a reculé devant aucun moyen pour nous briser, autant comme mouvement que comme personnes. La loi spéciale et la brutalité policière se sont doublées d’atteinte à la réputation, de filatures, de déni du droit d’expression, d’interrogatoires injustifiés par la police, d’attaques nominales à l’Assemblée nationale, de sous-entendus constants que notre organisation était à la frontière du terrorisme : tous les coups ont semblé permis, qu’importent les effets sur la jeunesse. Pour un premier ministre qui souhaite tellement que le mouvement étudiant dénonce la violence et l’intimidation, je trouve que Jean Charest a fait preuve à l’endroit des étudiants et à mon endroit d’une charge de violence inouïe. J’ai maintenant besoin de prendre un répit loin de toutes ces attaques.
Ce manque de respect envers la jeunesse et ses porte-parole n’a d’égal que le mépris généralisé du bien commun qui règne au Parti libéral du Québec. Ce gouvernement n’a pas le droit de donner de leçon de démocratie : il est l’incarnation même de la corruption et du détournement des institutions publiques.
Ce premier ministre, au fond, n’est que le symbole d’une société bloquée qui n’a comme aspiration que de s’abaisser au même niveau de bêtise que ses voisins. Les universités américaines et ontariennes ne sont pas des exemples, pas plus que leur système de santé. Nous ne voulons pas suivre le chemin qu’elles indiquent et qui mène à la marchandisation de nos vies.
Heureusement, aujourd’hui, en écrivant ces lignes, je suis sincèrement convaincu que cela ne se produira pas. Cela ne se produira pas, car nous, membres de la jeunesse québécoise, savons maintenant ce que nous devons exiger de nous-mêmes. Cela ne se produira pas, parce que nous sommes des centaines de milliers, enfants de cette grève, à nous battre contre leur projet mortifère. Et nous ne nous refroidirons pas.
L’arrogance du pouvoir n’aura eu comme effet que de renforcer notre confiance en nous-mêmes. Les solidarités tissées au travers des nuages de gaz ne se délieront pas de sitôt. Les mains tendues ne se lâcheront pas. Et nous marcherons encore, pendant des années s’il le faut et bien au-delà de cette grève, afin qu’un jour le peuple du Québec reprenne aux affairistes et à l’argent les rênes de ce pays.
Ensemble, bloquons la hausse,
2. Some students declare tuition truce
By Karen Seidman, The Gazette, August 9, 2012
MONTREAL – Despite a protest through the streets of downtown on Wednesday and a clash with riot police, at least some students in Quebec have declared a truce until election day.
Students at the CEGEP de St. Jérôme voted for a truce on the issue of the tuition conflict until Sept. 4, when they will see the results of the provincial election, although, like many of these early student votes, attendance was very poor. Only about 150 to 200 of the school’s 4,000 students turned up for the vote.
Also, students at CEGEP Valleyfield have decided not to participate in the class boycott.* The results of the vote, which were released on Wednesday night, showed 426 students against the boycott, 246 for it.
But about 200 demonstrators in Montreal who briefly blocked access to the Hydro-Quebec Building on René Lévesque Blvd. — and prompted riot police to fire some tear gas as they quickly dispersed the crowd — showed that the summer lull in the tuition conflict may be coming to an end.
Certainly, things were heating up on the election trail, where Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois annoyed some students by urging them to go back to class, while pledging not to interfere with their student democracy.
“Madame Marois has no authority over the student movement, she doesn’t represent the student movement,” said Camille Robert, a spokesperson for the Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE), which organized Wednesday’s demonstration.
And concerns loomed about a renegade group, called Les Réseaux, which is trying to urge students to block access to CEGEPs next week, when students are set to return to class. Called Opération “Maginot” — a reference to a line of concrete fortifications which France constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy in the run-up to the Second World War — the group is encouraging students to come out en masse beginning on Monday.
“They have weapons, but we have conviction,” reads the group’s Facebook page. “The battle doesn’t stop at the polls.” The group does note that the event should only proceed if the targeted CEGEPs have continued their mandate to boycott classes.
Éliane Laberge, president of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), said the group is “worrisome,” and that she hoped it wouldn’t lead to campus clashes, but that it was a natural outcome of the Liberals’ Bill 78, which aims to restrict protests and stop picketing students from blocking access to classes. “I don’t know who is behind this group but I hope they don’t block the doors of CEGEPs without strike mandates,” she said.
She seemed pleased about the truce at St. Jérôme, saying she thought people might vote that way, but wasn’t sure. She said it makes some sense for students to be in school during the campaign. “We’ve noticed that (Premier Jean) Charest is scoring electoral points on our backs,” Laberge said.
The early voting at student general assemblies continued on its path of poor turnouts on Wednesday. The biochemistry department at the Université de Montréal didn’t have enough students for quorum and postponed its vote on the boycotts for a week or two.
On Tuesday, the social sciences department at the Université du Québec à Montréal got only about 400 of 4,600 students at its general assembly. They will continue the boycott but will vote again later in August.
But as masked students marched through the streets of downtown Montreal again on Wednesday and faced off with about 50 riot police, it’s clear that the election has not necessarily calmed tensions on the issue of tuition hikes, which has expanded into a debate about neoliberalism and the privatization of public services. “We have to keep fighting because the election won’t change anything,” said Louis Pérot, a student at Collège Mont St. Louis in Ahuntsic.
* The Gazette is here taking a lead from Quebec Premier Jean Charest who is arguing forcefully during the election campaign that the mass, student movement against tuition fee hikes in Quebec is a “boycott” of school classes, not a “strike.”
3. Charest denies he interfered with SQ
Surveillance ceased upon premier’s presence
Roberto Rocha, The Gazette, Aug 9, 2012 ST. LEONARD D’ASTON — Liberal Leader Jean Charest said he had no knowledge that the Sûreté du Québec was tailing a Liberal supporter when the two met in 2009. Charest was reacting to a Radio-canada report alleging the SQ killed a surveillance on Eddy Brandone after he spoke with Charest at a ministers’ meeting with the Inuit community in Dorval. In full damage control mode, Charest said last night he has never interfered in a police operation as premier of Quebec,
Brandone is the former secretary-treasurer of FTQ Construction* and a Liberal supporter. Charest expressed outrage that anyone who viewed the report might draw a conclusion that he had something to do with the police decision. He said all he did was exchange brief pleasantries at a public event. “Never, never, never did I intervene. Never,” Charest told reporters outside his campaign bus. “Since I have been premier of Quebec I have never been aware of a police investigation, nor have I intervened.”
Charest also questioned the fairness of the report and the ethics of choosing to run it in the middle of an election campaign. He even raised ominous suggestions of some political motivation: “Ask the question. Why is it coming out today? One week into an election campaign. For something that happened in 2009 and, suddenly, it’s in the news today.”
Brandone told Radio-Canada they chatted for all of 30 seconds that day, but later denied talking to Charest at a subsequent interview. A source said Brandone was not invited to the event, and spoke to the premier for two minutes.
The SQ is not commenting on the allegations, but said there was no political interference on this case.
Charest said he met Brandone as far back as 1993, when he supported his leadership campaign for the federal Conservatives, and as a Quebec Liberal supporter. “I remember him because every time he came to say hello he pointed out that he’s a union activist, which is, in our party, rare,” Charest told reporters.
Quoting four anonymous officers, the Radio-canada report said a commanding officer in the operation might have panicked upon seeing the Liberal leader and ordered the blackout. Another said there’s an unwritten rule to protect the government from any perception that a criminal investigation is touching it.
Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois called the Radio Canada report “worrisome.”
“For sure it’s not normal to stop surveillance and that’s why we need some explanations from Mr. Charest,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Coalition Avenir Québec, Jean-François Del Torchio, said the story “shows the importance of the Charbonneau Commission.”
It was a taxing day for Charest, who also had to react to an anglo rights crusader who urged Quebec’s English speakers to rethink their loyalty to the Liberal Party and consider the CAQ. Robert Libman, whose Equality Party stole four seats from Liberal ridings in the ’80s, said anglos should vote strategically for the CAQ in districts where the PQ wouldn’t benefit from splitting the vote. He claims the Liberals betrayed anglophones by caving in to nationalist policies on language.
To this, Charest responded with the same line that irked Libman: “that a vote for the CAQ is a vote for sovereignty.” …
* The FTQ is the largest of four, large labour federations in Quebec. It is the only one to have a formal affiliation, albeit fading, to the Canadian Labour Congress.
4. Sovereignty? Legault says ‘non’
CAQ leader makes pitch to anglophones, reveals how he would vote
By Joanna Smith, Toronto Star, Aug 9, 2012
MONTREAL— After urging the English-speaking community in Quebec to stop being taken for granted by the federalist Liberals and vote them out, François Legault finally disclosed how he would vote in a referendum on sovereignty. The answer: “No.” No today, no for the next decade and if his fledgling Coalition Avenir Québec forms government following the Sept. 4 provincial election campaign, then no one in the province will ever have to answer the question so long as they are in power.
The former Parti Québécois cabinet minister had already promised that CAQ would “never” put a referendum on the table, but Legault had been quiet about his personal views on the subject, leaving him vulnerable to charges — notably from Liberal Leader Jean Charest — that he is really a closet sovereigntist.
“I thought for a certain number of years that sovereignty was the right thing to do,” Legault told reporters in Vaudreuil-Dorion, but now, he said, it was time to bring Quebecers together. “We have to face the reality.”
The proclamation came after Legault urged Quebec anglophones — a linguistic minority in the province that has its highest concentration in the Montreal area — to vote for his party instead of choosing the Liberals solely because of their stance on the national question.“For too long, anglophones have been taken for granted by the Liberal party. For too long, we have had this bickering between federalists and sovereigntists,” Legault told reporters in Coteau-du-Lac on Wednesday morning. “I think it’s possible for Sept. 4 for anglophones to vote for the (CAQ) and finally have an alternative to a party that does not deserve to be supported.”
Legault said he wants to bring people of all languages, no matter where they stand on the question of whether Quebec should remain in Canada, together to put an end to the “corrupt” government and take part in moving the province forward. “I know many anglophones who when they go to Toronto are very proud of saying they come from Quebec, so I think anglophones have participated in the creation of a modern Quebec. We must include them in our projects and it is important have their support,” said Legault.
The questions stemmed from the news that Robert Libman, whose Equality Party snagged four safe seats from the Quebec Liberals in the 1989 election by stirring up a rebellion in the English-speaking community, is urging anglophones to vote for the CAQ. Libman told The Canadian Press he decided to urge anglophones to support Legault after Charest tried to scare English-speaking voters into sticking with his party by saying voting for CAQ, or staying home, would be akin to voting for a referendum. “I felt rather insulted. He’s very condescending, as if we don’t have a choice but to vote Liberal otherwise we risk separation,” Libman said. “I think the electorate is a little bit smarter than that.”
5. Shaky Marois campaign has PQ sliding from lofty perch
Chantal Hébert, columnist Toronto Star, Aug 9, 2012
MONTREAL— The Parti Québécois has lost every election but one since the 1995 referendum, and that victory hails back to the late ’90s and Lucien Bouchard’s tenure. Since the formidable premier retired abruptly in 2001, his former party has been beset by defeats, defections and divisions. Could it endure another spell in opposition without turning into a spent force?
That question is on many minds as Pauline Marois struggles to keep her footing in a campaign that has already become more slippery than PQ strategists had apparently bargained for. A week ago, the sovereigntist party showed up at the election gate for what it framed as a two-way race with Jean Charest’s Liberals only to be forced to scramble to keep pace in a competitive three-way campaign.
By all indications — starting with the body language of its leader — the PQ brain trust did not seriously factor in the possibility that the Coalition Avenir Québec would hit the ground running. On Sunday, Marois walked away from a media scrum rather than comment on anti-corruption crusader Jacques Duchesneau’s entry in the campaign as a CAQ candidate.
That may have been designed to prevent that day’s unveiling of the PQ platform from being overshadowed by François Legault’s prize catch. If so, the strategy backfired. On Sunday as on every other day of the campaign to date, the PQ was at best an also-ran in the media coverage.
With the resumption of the hostilities between the student movement and the government, the window for the PQ to gain control of the campaign agenda is closing fast. On Wednesday, the student movement brought a few hundred of its members back to the streets of Montreal. The reopening of the province’s colleges and universities next week is lining up to be chaotic.
Marois has little left in her policy playbook to deflect attention from a confrontation that has placed her party offside with a majority of Quebecers. A summer campaign means an empty federal stage, depriving the PQ of the daily target of an unpopular Conservative government. These days, the identity-driven issues that are so close to the heart of the Péquiste base are not uppermost in the public’s mind.
In the lead-up to the campaign, Marois bolstered her team with former journalists. But as articulate as they may be, their presence does not make up for the relative absence of the kind of high-profile economic and social policy standard-bearers that were prominent in the PQ lineups of the past. After one week, Marois is still struggling to articulate a core message.
It seems that the PQ game plan essentially rested on casting itself as the only realistic remedy to a rampant case of voter fatigue with Jean Charest’s rule. Marois’s main asset going in the campaign was her leading position in the polls. If (and when?) she loses that edge, keeping her CAQ and Québec Solidaire opponents from eating away at the anti-Liberal vote could become even harder.
If any of this sounds familiar, it is because there are eerie resemblances between the thinking behind the PQ’s campaign strategy and that of Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal team in 2011. It too gambled its fortunes on the assumption that it had no real competition as the default alternative to the outgoing government.
The PQ’s travails offer an additional lesson for the federal Liberals to ponder. In 2007, the PQ was pushed back to third place in the National Assembly by a surging Action démocratique du Québec party. But when Marois brought the party back to official opposition a year later, the ADQ episode was dismissed as a rogue wave rather than the precursor of a comprehensive realignment of the Quebec tectonic plates. Then last year, the Bloc Québécois lost its grip on francophone Quebec.
In this campaign, the PQ faces bolder challengers on the right and the left than in 2007, and they pose a potentially bigger threat to the party’s dominant position on the Quebec landscape than any it has had to face since it first came to power almost four decades ago.