Tuition hikes are officially history
The plans to hike university tuition fees that caused months of protests and boycotts last spring officially ended today.
Premier Pauline Marois canceled the fee hike by decree during the new PQ government's first cabinet meeting Thursday, acting on a promise she made during the election camapign.
And the next order of business, she says, is to repeal the Liberals' controversial anti-protest law, Bill 78.
She also intends to make good on a promise to hold a summit on university funding, during which she plans to propose indexing any future tuition fee hikes to the rate of inflation.
Student leaders cheered the news.
"We made it," said Martine Desjardins, the head of the FEUQ, the university students' federation. "It's a triumph of justice and equality."
Marois also announced Thursday that she will:
• Shut down the aging Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor in Becancour and create a $200 million fund to diversify the region's economy.
• Cancel a $200-a-year health tax and replace the lost money with income-tax increases for top-income earners.
• Introduce tougher language legislation within 100 days.
• Balance the provincial budget by 2013-14.
• Replace Jean Charest's cherished "Plan Nord'' on northern development with the "Plan for Northern Development.'' She did not discuss past promises to increase mining royalties for companies operating in the region.
• Keep an open mind on shale-gas extraction. Marois played down comments from her national-resources minister suggesting the process will never pass environmental safety requirements. Marois said she will wait for impact assessments before making a long-term decision.
(With files from Canadian Press)