"The decision of the government regarding the tuition fees is the indexation of 3 per cent," in line with the cost of inflation, said Higher Education Minister Pierre Duchesne to reporters of an education summit in late February.
L'ASSE (Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante), the student group that advocates free education, did not show up for the summit since the PQ government were not willing to make their argument apart of the discussion. Their group instead held a protest against the event.
Premier Pauline Marois commented, “We had some difficulties (finding a consensus) with tuition, but the responsibility of the government is to decide — and I decided."
The Parti Quebecois supported students last year by marching along at protests and donning the red square.
Martine Desjardins, president of Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec said that she does feel the summit did make some gains in terms of student voices being heard, but she, like many, was not completely satisfied.
Léo Bureau-Blouin, former president of Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, now MNA for the PQ, has declared to support the government's position. “Personally, when he decided to go up front and support the inflation proposed by the government, it was a shock,” said Desjardins. “But at the same time it’s easy to understand why because he’s like, you know, a deputy and he needs to follow the line of the party.”
While it is much lower than the proposed 70 per cent increase made by former Liberal Premier Jean Charest, the issue is not, as it has always been, with tuition, but where the money is placed. Rather than repeating the obvious arguments, let us reinstate that the high level of corruption that has infiltrated Quebec for years constantly results in fellow citizens footing the bill.
According to Maclean's, "The report from the Department of Education said universities received two per cent more per student than the Canadian average — $29,242, compared with $28,735 — in 2008-09. According to those four-year-old figures, the Ontario amount was $26,383, while the amount for Western provinces was higher at $32,976."
The leaked reports were unveiled by the PQ in November 2012, yet today they are voicing the theory that somehow universities are underfunded. However with the election results last year proving to be a very tight race amongst the Parti Quebecois, the Liberals, and CAQ- and with Quebec Solidaire being a new party, it's clear that at this point, there are no political parties suited to govern the province at its full potential.
And even though the most prominent students groups have turned down rumors of another strike- yet- it is clear that this may be the calm before the storm.