MONTREAL – A former leader within Quebec’s student movement is taking flak from some of his old allies now that he’s an elected politician and tuition fees are going up.
Leo Bureau-Blouin, who was elected last fall under the Parti Quebecois banner, says he’s gotten threats and attacks on a Facebook page he uses to publicize a monthly meeting with constituents.
Some of the posters on the page called him a “loser” and “traitor.”
Bureau-Blouin’s constituency office was targeted in protests earlier this week and had red paint splattered on it during the night.
Premier Pauline Marois announced at the end of a summit on education on Tuesday that the government was rejecting calls for a tuition freeze. Instead, fees are being hiked three per cent in accordance with the cost of living.
That’s about $70 per year.
Angry students, who have been fighting tuition increases for a year, took to the streets and ended up clashing with police.
More than a dozen people were arrested. Students say they plan to resume demonstrations next week.
Many vented their ire on the Facebook page, criticizing the man who was once one of the most recognizable faces of their movement.
Camille Robert, one of the spokespeople for the more militant ASSE student group, asked if Bureau-Blouin could help pay for the tuition increases.
“Would it be possible to find out if your salary as an MNA could help us pay for the increase?” she asked the 21-year-old member of Quebec’s national assembly, who has already committed to donating a quarter of his salary to charity.
Other members of her group, including spokesman Jeremie Bedard-Wien, said they planned to attend the event for constituents.
Poster Samuel Cote says he won’t miss the chance to see Bureau-Blouin.
“This time, I’m going to have a pocketful of red squares,” he said, citing the symbol of the student movement which were worn by members of the PQ caucus until just before last year’s provincial election.
Cote finished his post with a blunt “RESIGN!”
There were a number of supportive messages, too: “You’re doing exactly what you said you’d do Leo and you have all my respect! Politics isn’t easy, stay strong!”
While he didn’t address tuition fee increases, Bureau-Blouin said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Monday that he was pleased with the student summit.
“Quality of education, funding of universities, affordable loans and bursaries programs — all of these issues will be addressed.”
His optimism wasn’t shared by many of the posters on the Facebook page on Wednesday, some of whom left sarcastic messages.
“Increases over five years with the Liberals (equals) increases over 15 years with the Pequistes,” wrote Pedro LeChasseur. “COOOOL.”
Added Eric Robertson: “Thanks for the increase, Leo.”
Bureau-Blouin says he will go ahead with the meeting but called for respect.
(With a file by Andy Blatchford)