Quebec's commission looking into the "Maple Spring" student demonstrations of 2012 begins this morning, setting out to better understand what led to the protests, and assessing how these events impacted the public.
The Minister of Public Security, Stéphane Bergeron, announced its creation of the “Commission spéciale d’examen des événements du printemps 2012” in May, naming former Parti Québécois minister Serge Ménard as chairman.
From its creation, many groups criticized the mandate of the commission, and threatened to boycott.
Ménard's mandate will be to determine how the province went from peaceful demonstrations against proposed tuition fee hikes in Feb. 2012, to a violent and bloody demonstration in Victoriaville, one of many confrontations with police.
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Scores were injured, and hundreds arrested during the months of unrest.
Ménard has the job of examining the circumstances around the demonstrations and trying to figure out what caused the situation to deteriorate.
Ménard will be assisted by the former president of the CSN trade union, Claudette Carbonneau, and retired judge Bernard Grenier.
The Quebec Liberal Party have criticized the commission saying it's just going to be an opportunity to heap blame on them.
The Official Opposition critic for public security, Robert Poëti, called the commission a "waste of money."
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He also questioned the neutrality of Claudette Carbonneau, saying that the CSN offered logistical support to the student movement in 2012.
The Montreal Police Brotherhood and one of the main student coalitions, CLASS, now ASSE, have refused to appear before the commission.
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The police officers union is refusing to cooperate, saying the commission lacks transparency.
The student group said that in its current form, the commission was not credible and Ménard's mandate is not broad enough.
Speaking to Radio-Canada on Aug. 30, Ménard assured that the commission had the cooperation of the majority of those involved in the student protest and it would have all the evidence necessary to fulfill its mandate.
Ménard has to submit his draft recommendations to the public security minister before Dec. 20.
Former president of the Quebec Federation of University Students, Martine Desjardins, is scheduled to be the first witness.
Desjardins played an important role in negotiations with Jean Charest’s Liberal government during the strike, on behalf of 13 associations representing 125,000 students.