Que. student spokesman takes aim at Charest in resignation letter
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012 10:35AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 9, 2012 6:44PM EDT
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who has been characterized as the face of Quebec’s student protest movement, says he’s stepping down as a spokesperson.
In a letter published Thursday, Nadeau-Dubois said it’s time for new faces to represent CLASSE, considered to be one of Quebec’s largest and most militant student groups.
But Nadeau-Dubois stressed that he isn’t leaving the movement altogether, and intends to continue protesting tuition hikes and related student issues.
“I will stay with you in the street, until victory,” Nadeau-Dubois wrote in a French message posted to Twitter on Thursday.
In his resignation, issued to French-language newspaper Le Devoir, Nadeau-Dubois says his single regret is leaving his post while Quebec Premier Jean Charest is still in office.
"Shale gas, corruption, Anticosti, Mount Orford, tuition hikes, health tax: the list of lies, scandals and attacks against the population by this government is too long,” he wrote.
“When youth rose up against these absurdities, Charest found his only response in billy clubs and tear gas," wrote Nadeau-Dubois.
His departure from CLASSE comes amid an election campaign, during which candidates of varying political stripes are trying to offer up solutions to ongoing unrest in the province.
The Sept. 4 election has been regarded as something of a referendum on the Charest Liberals and their response to the protest movement, which saw the arrival of the contentious Bill 78.
The legislation places limits on protests, including a rule that requires demonstrators to tell police about any rallies in advance and to submit a full itinerary for marches.
Nadeau-Dubois has been front and centre during pivotal points in the student movement. Those moments include the resignation of former Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp, a scuttled tuition deal, and a riot outside a Quebec Liberal Party convention in Victoriaville.
He’s stood behind cameras and microphones as the once-fledgling tuition hike debate morphed into a movement that’s seen commentary from international media and even a UN agency.
Martine Desjardins, the head of the Quebec Federation of University Students, said she often butted heads with Nadeau-Dubois, but that her outspoken counterpart was a positive force on the movement.
“We're arguing and debating a lot but I think it's a good thing, because we're not representing the same association,” Desjardins said on Thursday.
At its inception, the student protests took the form of relatively peaceful rallies against Charest’s proposed tuition increases. The demonstrations have evolved since then, becoming more aggressive and taking aim at a wide array of social and political issues.
In a May interview with CTV’s Question Period, Nadeau-Dubois suggested that foot-dragging on behalf of the Charest Liberals was to blame for any increase in violence and disturbances.
"I think the fact that the conflict is now bigger than ever is a lot of the responsibility of the government because (Charest) ignored the movement for the first ten weeks,” he said.
Nadeau-Dubois is leaving CLASSE the same week that the organization is voting on whether students should return to class when schools reopen. The decision could weigh heavily on the outcome of the Quebec election, potentially taking the tuition protests off the table as an issue.
For his part, Nadeau-Dubois said in his resignation letter that he hopes the fight continues.
“The turbulent political and social climate that we helped create in Quebec absolutely must continue in the months and years to come.”