Quebec Minister of Higher Education open to granting students right to strike

Pierre Duchesne, Quebec’s Minister of Higher Education, told La Presse that he wants to change the law to grant students the right to strike.

During last spring’s student protests, the courts, the government and the police treated the movement as an individual choice to boycott classes. If granted a right to strike, striking students could prevent others from accessing classes. The minister said the issue would be addressed in the winter, at the higher education summit.

Duchesne said the Liberal government’s decision to treat the protests as a boycott led to social instability.

“For 40 years in Quebec, we have spoken of a [student] right to strike…There have been strikes, situations in the CEGEPs and universities. Then the previous Liberal government decided to invent the word boycott. The consequence is that we had an important social crisis…The previous Liberal government, which was in the politics of division, said “we will call upon the judges, we will multiply the injunctions and we will call the police.” That doesn’t lead to a climate favourable to studies.” – Pierre Duchesne, quoted in La Presse [translation]

The announcement follows a decision by the Fédération étudiant collégiale du Québec to refer the question of a student right to strike to the Montreal legal clinic Juripop.

The courts adopted the logic of the boycott, ordering many universities and colleges to resume classes or prohibiting obstructing access to class. However, most of the student groups argued their movement was a strike, and that they should be granted the same rights as a labour union to enforce the strike.

Many of the injunctions were not respected, although only one contempt of court action was maintained: that of Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (see my previous posts about the Nadeau case)


La Presse