Students jostle with PQ over tuition rates

Quebec student groups didn't get along well with the province's Liberal government, and now things don't seem too rosy with the ruling Parti Quebecois.

The two sides appear to be at odds over tuition rates in the lead-up to a summit on post-secondary education.

PQ Premier Pauline Marois says she wants to reduce the student debt load, but won't rule out a tuition increase tied to inflation.

But many student groups are pushing for a freeze on tuition rates.

Huge protests erupted last spring over the former Liberal government's planned increases, with thousands of students taking to the streets.

Marois scrapped the increases after the PQ took power in September.

At a PQ delegate meeting in Drummondville, Que. on the weekend, Marois faced some pressure from the youth wing to further reduce tuition rates.

The party's youth wing suggested in a motion that tuition frees should be frozen and eventually eliminated.

PQ leaders shied away from that proposal, however, and the party passed a more general motion on Sunday, saying it was committed to a tuition freeze or anything else that would cut student debt.

Marois said that may include an increase tied to inflation.

That didn't sit well with student leaders.

Martine Desjardins, the head of a university student association, said Marois was playing with words. Desjardins said her group will fight against a tuition increase of any kind at the summit, though she said there were no plans for another student strike yet.

"There are plenty of other ways to ensure success," she said.

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