Whether an avid participant, follower or totally uninformed, the following 50 minute interview ought to bring you up to speed on the enormous Quebec student strike that has gripped the province for over three months now.
(if audio fails, download directly here)
This is a wide-ranging, highly-informative interview of Benoit Renaud, a political activist from Gatineau who was involved in the 1986 and 1990 Quebec student strikes as a student, and the 1996 Quebec student strike as a staff member for Movement pour le Droit à l’Éducation (MDE), the short-lived by dynamic radical democratic student union that spearheaded the 1996 strike (MDE is an ancestor of ASSÉ, the radical student union which has spearheaded the 2005 and 2012 Quebec student strikes and is the core of the now well-known student coalition CLASSE). Renaud is now a member of the national coordinating committee of Quebec solidaire, the left-wing anti-neoliberal party that emerged in Quebec out of the fusion of the anti-capitalist Union des Forces Progressistes and the radical feminist organization Option Citoyenne. Quebec solidaire elected its first Quebec MNA, firebrand Amir Khadir, in the 2008 Quebec election.
The interview was carried out early Monday morning, May 7, about 36 hours after the tentative agreement struck by student union leaders and the Quebec government. We now know that this deal is being overwhelmingly rejected by Quebec students, the stats from May 9 being 83,250 against, 2,300 in favour (a Montreal Gazette figure posted on May 9 that has since been deleted). According to the Gazette article in question, only two CEGEPs (university prep schools unique to Quebec - equivalent to last year of high school, first year of university) have voted in favour. CLASSE is organizing a meeting of delegates to discuss strategy now that it is apparent that the deal will be defeated. Which direction the student strike goes now is really up in the air.
The interview was done for Rank and File Radio, a labour news program on CFRC 101.9FM out of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Wednesdays, 5:30-6:00pm EST (livestreaming at cfrc.ca)