Former Education Minister Pauline Marois tried to increase tuition

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois speaks to reporters while campaigning at the CEGEP Monday, August 27, 2012 in Sorel, Que. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)What a politician says one day can rapidly change by the next. While Pauline Marois rides on a wave of support from youth who are angry with Jean Charest and Francois Legault who both plan to increase tuition, students have failed to remember Marois’s past. Apart from telling students that she needs a majority government to repeal law 78 and to freeze tuition rates, she is known in history for being forced to back down from tuition increases of her own as the Education Minister in 1996.

Marois is telling students she’s with them when at one point she was against them and their goal for free tuition. Marois, in fact said the other day that free tuition is unattainable.

“I say to all Quebecers and to all students if they support the Parti Quebecois we will cancel tuition fee hike. But I can’t say to the population of Quebec it is possible to have free tuition. I say to those who want to vote Quebec Solidaire that it (free tuition) is not possible because if we do that we can’t do anything else. We have to be respectful of all other citizens.”

Pauline Marois, PQ Leader, August 27, 2012

While it is true that free tuition is fiscally unattainable, seeing Marois’s past and her approach to student unrest towards Charest, one must wonder whether she truly does believe in freezing tuition and repealing law 78 – or if they are just bribes to lure the angry youth into giving her a majority mandate on a platter so that she can enact her hate-filled attack towards the English and cultural minorities.

“Even though Bill 78 is a bad law, you have to respect it.”

Pauline Marois, PQ Leader, August 27, 2012

In 1996, after Bourassa’s Liberals enacted a $280 increase over 4 years to the then $500 rate, Pauline Marois became the PQ Education Minister who tried to increase tuition fees. After a month of protests from CEGEP students, Marois backed down and decided to keep the freeze. In addition to keeping the freeze, Marois mandated that students who failed more than 5 classes be fined by the PQ Government.

While Marois may have worn the red square and joined the protests, she clearly did it for her political future and she has made it clear that given a majority mandate she would not fulfill her word. Just the fact that she links Law 78 to a majority government is troublesome and it means it isn’t a real commitment, it is just words. In fact, actions speak louder than words and in 1996 she attempted to raise tuition and failed and to add insult to injury she applied punishment laws to those who didn’t like it just like Charest is doing with Law 78.

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Related: Why Quebec Needs a Minority Government