2005 Quebec student strike

2005 Quebec student strike

The 2005 Quebec student strike occurred between February 24 and April 2005. Part of the opposition to the Charest government, it was led by students of CEGEPs and universities of Quebec, on strike to protest budget cuts of $103 million in the Grants and Loans program.


During the 2003 Quebec general election campaign, the Liberal Party of Quebec, led by Jean Charest, made a promise to freeze education cost. Having to deal with a rough budget, and because of the election promise, the Quebec government changed the Grants and Loans program by transforming $103 million of grants into loans, nearly doubling the debt of the poorest students.

Coalitions representing most CEGEPs and universities started to negotiate with the government. Talks and protests, in the form of marches, went on for over a year. Students from most CEGEPs and universities took the streets on April 14, 2004 (the first anniversary of the Charest government's election) and November 10, 2004.

On strike

During their January 29-30 2005 congress, the students' unions members of the ASSÉ ("Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante") and other independent students' unions decide to form the "Coalition de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante Élargie" (CASSÉÉ) to coordinate the upcoming strike campaign. ("Cassé" is a French word equivalent to "broke".)

The strike was initiated on February 21, by a member of the CASSÉÉ, the anthropology students' association from University of Montreal ("Association étudiante d'anthropologie de l'Université de Montréal"). But the real start was given on February 24 when over 30,000 students members of the CASSÉÉ, The Canadian Federation of Students-Quebec and a few other unions joined the strike.

The FECQ and FEUQ, federations of CEGEP and university unions, called for a general strike on March 4 and March 9 respectively. By March 15, over 100,000 students were on strike. This turn of events surprised many, as these organizations are traditionally opposed to strikes as a negotiation tactic.Fact|date=July 2008On March 16, 2005 students from traditionally more conservative institutions like École Polytechnique de Montréal, as well as from Concordia University joined the strike for 24 hours. Between 10,000 and 100,000 students (80,000 being the number most reported)Fact|date=July 2008 took the streets for a peaceful march in Montreal, creating the largest student protest ever staged in Quebec history. At this height of the strike over half the entire student population (230,000 out of 450,000) of Quebec was on strike simultaneously.Fact|date=July 2008

The even more conservative École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal and McGill University undergraduates Students' Society of McGill University joined the strike on March 18 for 24 symbolic hours, though the McGill strike went largely unobserved and further action was rejected by the student body through an online poll. This constitutes the first strike since 1967 for the "HEC" and the first strike in 40 years for Polytechnique.

Another strike peak occurred on March 24 during a 10,000-person march in Quebec City. A group of radical protesters came late and happened to take the lead of the march. When the march stopped in some locations, the radicals attempted to cause damage to buildings and to force the demonstration to degenerate; however, the intervention of pacifist marchers prevented such events from occurring.Fact|date=July 2008


On April 2, the student federations and the government reached an agreement that was still left to be voted on by the individual student associations during the week. This agreement consists of a CAN $70M refunding for 2005-2006 and a return of the $103M for the next 4 years, totaling $482M. This money comes from 3 levels: the millennium grant foundation, the federal government and the provincial government.

The FEUQ officially endorsed the agreement, while the FECQ maintained a neutral position, saying it was "interesting enough" to be voted on by the individual members' unions. The CASSÉÉ rejected it. Over the next week, the movement mostly ended, with over two thirds of the students voting for a return to class during the week. However, at least 20 unions representing over 100,000 students rejected the offer and by April 11, there were still approximately 20,000 students on strike. During the following 2 weeks, most associations ended or suspended the strike to allow the students to complete their semester.


The symbol of support for the student strike in question was a small square of red cloth worn upon garment, in the fashion of activist ribbons. The Parti Québécois Official Opposition MNAs, to signify their own oppositionand relay the voice of the students and citizens, had adopted this symbol in chamber.

On March 30, a group of students hoisted the students' symbol on Mount Royal cross. It took 24 hours before authorities removed it. On its lower panel, it was written: "Arrêtons de sacrifier nos enfants", which means: "Let's stop sacrificing our children."

See also

*Quebec general election, 2003
*Politics of Quebec
*Student union
*Strike action
*General strike
*Student strike

External links

* [http://www.feuq.qc.ca FEUQ]
* [http://www.fecq.org FECQ]
* [http://www.asse-solidarite.qc.ca ASSÉ]
* [http://www.marxist.com/canada/canada_students_strike270405.htm Québec Society on the Move: Successes and Shortcomings of the Student Strike] a Marxist analysis of the strike

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