Friday September 21, 2012
New Quebec leader scraps tuition hikes
MONTREAL: The new Quebec government formally repealed Thursday a planned tuition increase that had triggered months of angry and sometimes violent protests in Canada's French-speaking province.
On her first full day in office, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois acted on a campaign promise to return tuition to Can$2,168 (US$2,220), the lowest in the country.
Her predecessor Jean Charest had initially planned an 82 percent increase of Can$1,778, later reduced to Can$1,533 over seven years to plug a budget deficit.
Marois said she will also cancel the Charest Liberals' protest legislation that curbed demonstration rights following rowdy protests over the hikes since February.
The Quebec assembly's emergency law required groups of more than 10 people to inform police in advance when they plan to hold a demonstration, and provide the location, time and duration of the event.
"These two decisions will allow us to return peace to our streets and to reestablish rights and liberties," said Marois, who had backed student protesters during the "Maple Spring."
Student groups were quick to hail the new premier's move.
"It's a victory for justice and equality," said Martine Desjardins, president of the FEUQ university student association.
"Together, we have written a chapter in the history of Quebec. Together, we have just proven that we can stand up and reach one of the student movement's greatest victories."
An upcoming summit on secondary education is set to debate how Quebec's public universities will be funded.
"The story is not over," said Eliane Laberge of the FECQ student federation. - AFP