Tuition is going to be a huge issue next year, and Joël Pedneault will be a strong person to have at the helm as VP external. We hope that he will take multiple viewpoints into account and keep his strategies grounded in serious research, but his experience and the way he has presented himself this campaign period give us confidence in his ability to effectively lead the external portfolio.
Pedneault’s primary challenge next year will be trying to keep tuition fees down in the face of an end to the current freeze. These may as much as double over the next few years, and Pedneault has pledged to lobby against tuition hikes for Quebec, out of province, and even international students. This would be a difficult task for anybody, and a Quebec government set in its ways, with university and business leaders onside, will be extremely difficult to sway. Pedneault may have the best shot at success, however. He has spent the past year working with the QSR and has a solid understanding of its workings. He also understands SSMU, thanks to his experience as a councillor. He has been involved in research and has pledged to conduct more, is interested in trying to ease barriers for Anglophone entry into the Quebec student movement, and wants to pursue a strategy that includes presenting real alternatives to tuition hikes to provincial legislators. He is well-spoken in both official languages and should be able to inspire the confidence of students and the administration.
That tuition will still rise is a likely outcome, so we hope that Pedneault will leave time to focus on his other promises. The reduced fare transit pass for all students, increased collaboration with community groups, and everyday work as part of the SSMU executive are all endeavours we would like to see. One of Sebastien Ronderos-Morgan’s strengths as VP external was engaging students in events and trips that were not just about tuition, like a bus to protests outside the climate change negotiations in Ottawa. Though Myriam Zaidi has not run many of these trips, they would be good things for Pedneault to bring back.
Joël Pedneault has a good track record and a well thought out vision. We encourage you to vote yes and wish him luck as VP external next year.