Student protests shift to Eastern Townships 0
Students protest at Sherbrooke Cegep, Monday, April 30, 2012. (QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - There might be a sliver of hope in a Quebec student strike that's approaching the three-month mark.
QMI Agency has learned that two of the three main student groups in the province have drafted a counterproposal they are prepared to present to the province as soon as Tuesday.
The proposal by the FECQ and FEUQ includes suggestions to balance the province's books while reintroducing the tuition freeze that dates back to the 1990s. Quebec reported a $1.5-billion deficit in March.
Premier Jean Charest's five-year, $1,625 tuition hike triggered a general strike by 170,000 students on Feb. 14, and images of violent rampages and clashes with riot police have made international headlines.
Talks between the government and the two moderate groups broke down last week after Quebec barred a third group, the hardline CLASSE association, from the table.
The government blames CLASSE for several rampages that have led to hundreds of arrests, mainly in Montreal.
While the two moderate groups initially showed solidarity with CLASSE by pulling out of talks, news of the counterproposal was the strongest sign yet of dissension in the ranks.
CLASSE was the only major student group that refused to denounce the violent protests.
Meanwhile, most Quebec students have opted to finish their semesters and a handful have even turned to the courts to force schools to stay open despite blockades, sit-ins and picket lines.
Two protesters were arrested Monday following a scuffle outside a community college in Sherbrooke, Que.
Several-dozen students, wearing red-square strike emblems, had gathered at the college to denounce the fact the classes had resumed under a court order.
A person who tried to cross the picket line was physically accosted and a skirmish broke out as video cameras rolled.