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Following Thurday's ruling finding him guilty of contempt of court for encouraging picket lines at univeristies and colleges, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois announced Friday that he will appeal the decision.
In a press conference, the ex-spokesperson for CLASSE - the student coalition that as central to the student strike agains ttuition fee increases that swept Quebec from February to September - said that he could not allow the judgement to stand,
"[I cannot] accept that because of this ruling that there are people in Quebec who, in the future, will be afraid to defend their political opinions, even if they are backed by tens of thousands or people," he said. The possibility that this could set a precendent for limiting political speech means that this case goes beyond his personal situation, he explained.
Following the release of the ruling, several hundred people participated in a march on Thursday night to show their support for Nadeau-Dubois, as well as that other 3,000 people who were either charged with or found guilty of crimes during the student strike.
Others have spoken out in support of Nadeau-Dubois, including the Fédération autonome de l'enseignement. "The ruling of contempt of court against someone who was legitimately acting as a spoeksperson can only give rise to indignation - even more so because Mr. Nadeau-Dubois was defending the decisions made democratically by the members for whom he spoke," said FAE president Pierre St-Germain in a press release.
Even a former opponent of Nadeau-Dubois' questioned the ruling. In Saturday's La Presse, Martin D'Amour, a law student who actively fought for the right to seek injunctions against picket lines during the strike, wrote that the judge was setting a dangerous precendent by equating the words "I believe" (used by Nadeau-Dubois) with "we must" or "I am calling on you to."
"If we follow this path [of the ruling], who is to say that it will not be you or I that the courts censor for poltiical reasons the next time there is a debate on sovereignty, reasonable accommodations, or the exploitation of natural ressources," he wrote.
Nadeau-Dubois' legal fees are being covered by ASSÉ, the founding organization of CLASSE, but after months of striking their coffers are thinning due to other oexpenses. This, combined with the larger nature of the ruling, has resulted in a funding campaign called Appel à tous (A Call to All) where individuals and organizations are asked to donate to the legal defense fund.
This fund joins Je donne à nous (I give to us all), a fund established to help fund the legal defenses of thousands of others arrested during the strike.