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Striking students strip down; government calls emergency meeting

Quebec protest against tuition hikes now 3 months old; mediation scheduled.

Striking students stripEnlarge
Thousands of students opposed to higher tuition paraded in various states of undress through the streets of Montreal in opposition to tuition hikes on Thursday. The Quebec government called an emergency meeting today as the 'strike' stretched into a third month. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Stripping to their underwear and marching through the streets of Montreal seems to be the final straw for the Quebec government, which invited striking students to meet today, Postmedia reported.

On Thursday night, hundreds of students undressed – covering their intimates with red squares, the symbol of their strike, where needed – to demonstrate against proposed tuition hikes.

It was the 10th consecutive night students took to the streets; the protest movement began three months ago.

They chanted: “Tout nu dehors, jusqu’a la victoire,” or naked outside until victory, Postmedia said.

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Students are upset because the government wants to raise tuition $1,625 over five years.

The marching – all of it clothed until Thursday – began earlier this year and has, at times, become violent.

In an attempt to remedy the conflict, the government’s chief negotiator called student group and invited them to meet today, CBC News said.

“We hope it’s going to bring some new things on the table and we hope it’s going to solve the crisis,” student representative Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois told CBC. “But, for the moment, the exact topic of the meeting is confidential.”

The issue has divided Quebec, the Montreal Gazette reported.

Quebec has long held post-secondary education in high regard, dating back to the 1960s when the government then guaranteed accessible tuition.

Students have also received thousands of dollars from labor unions in Canada in support of the movement.

Those against the students say Quebec needs to control government spending; and, even with hikes, the province’s average tuition is still the most affordable in Canada.

The student protests in Montreal have routinely clogged streets for hours, disrupting commuters and businesses.

Public opinion polls show voters against the students, but upset with the government.

“We’re fighting for something that’s bigger than us,” student Melanie Millette told the Gazette. “It’s an issue that concerns the society as a whole.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120504/striking-students-strip-down-government-calls-emergency