Quebec’s students have returned to the streets. At a recent “education summit”, the new provincial government of Pauline Marois has announced plans to raise tuition at an indexed rate of around 3% per year, provoking a march of around five thousand by the end of the day. Last night, the tradition of night-marches was re-ignited when thousand again took to the streets of Montreal, encountering an army of police with horses, helicopters and riot gear and resulting in at least fifty arrests.

Last year, the “Maple Spring” in which striking and protesting students managed to defeat a tuition hike and helped bring down the Charest government captured the world’s attention. At the time, Marois and the PQ supported the protests, and used her first day in office to announce a freeze on tuition. Students saw this as a betrayal, and before long chants of “Partie Quebecois? Partie Bourgeoisie!” were ringing out in the streets. At this, Maclean’s and the National Post seem oddly overjoyed, if only to see the separatists squirm.

Marois actions are also coming under scrutiny from a financial point of view. While the increased fees will bring in around $12 million, they come along with cuts ten times that large. The crisis in funding for Quebec’s universities is going to get worse, not better, in spite of these new fees. Similarly, her lack of action on Plan Nord and mining taxes has drawn fire, another issue on which both the PQ and students criticized Charest last year. Last month’s Plan Nord confrence resulted in at least 36 arrests, another episode deeply reminiscent of last year’s showdown.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. It’s as if Charest never left, except that Marois herself had marched with the students and worn their symbolic red square. Last year’s election accomplished what armies of riot cops had, for months, failed to do. It effectively ended the protests, giving a sense of at least partial victory (and utter, crushing defeat for Charest). This betrayal threatens to shatter that illusion, and to bring the movement back out in full force. Tomorrow night, another march is scheduled, this time in Quebec City, and it isn’t likely to be the last.

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