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Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is the co‑spokesperson of la CLASSE ‑ Coalition Large of ASSE, one of the key sections of the Québec student strike movement. A student at the University of Québec at Montréal (UQAM), he was elected Secretary for Communications ASSE in April 2010, and became co‑spokesperson of the CLASSE, with Jeanne Reynolds, later that year. Since the beginning of the Québec student strike of 2012, he has become the voice of the left‑wing of the student movement, a prominent media personality, and a symbol of resistance against the government. One particularly vicious section of Bill 78 has been nicknamed “clause Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois” because it allows the law to apply in addition to existing charges, and he has already been charged with a potential $50,000 fine or jail time in convicted.
People’s Voice interviewed Nadeau-Dubois outside the May 19-20 weekend congress of the CLASSE.
What is the work of the congress today?
The main discussion, as an organization, is about do we want to publicly defy this law? Do we want to respect this law? If we want to defy it, how? It is a big congress, a big decision for the student movement to decide to be publicly illegal.
(NOTE: Unlike the university and college students federations who have said they will abide by Law 78, the CLASSE has since announced that it is calling on students to continue mobilizations and carry out their constitutional rights of assembly and protest. A website has also been launched where students are posting their faces, stating they defy the law, called Someone Stop Me. http://www.arretezmoiquelquun.
Can you talk about this law?
I think this is the last chance of the government to stop our movement. They tried to divide us, they tried by police brutality,
they made offers in the media hoping that the students in the general assemblies would stop the strike, and they encourage the students who are against the strike to seek injunctions in the courts to force the teachers to give courses. All those attempts have failed. So now the government is desperately trying to kill the movement at the moment it is stronger.
Can you explain your slogan – student strike, popular struggle?
We started on this specific issue of the tuition increase, but quickly students began to talk in the general assemblies about the tuition increase being part of a much broader wave of neo‑liberal reforms, not just in Québec but all over the world. We have more and more citizens coming to our protests who are not students. We have called for the workers to join us and it has worked – workers, citizens, community groups, other youth. The strike is about the possibility of the social movements to continue to contest the decisions of the government… This gave birth to the slogan that the strike is a student issue but the fight is for everyone.
What is the Red Hand Coalition?
This was founded three years ago at the time of the Bachand Budget, the first budget that really clearly attacked public services, to terrify and privatize. In the same budget we had the tuition increase, and the imposition of the $200 annual health tax per citizen. This huge coalition was created, regrouping the student movement, health and teachers unions, community groups, to contest not only the specific measures but also the vision of society and state that is inside this budget. Since then it has been the main coordination place for the social movements.
What support do you need from English‑speaking Canada?
In Québec we have a very active student movement. The best support we can have is for students elsewhere in Canada and the world to mobilize themselves against the tuition increases. We have seen this more and more, we are receiving more and more emails and phone calls.