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Students vow to target Liberals if Charest makes election call

Protesters hit casserole pans in front of a Charest mascot to protest against tuition hikes on Wednesday May 30, 2012 in Quebec City.

Clement Allard/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Quebec students are promising to be very active during any provincial election campaign this summer, with Premier Jean Charest's Liberals likely to be their main target.

Members of the CLASSE, the most radical student organization, meet this weekend to hammer out their exact election strategy.

Leaders of the group will not support one particular party. One thing is clear, however: they'll be gunning for the Liberals.

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CLASSE representatives will begin a tour of various Quebec communities later this month to promote a newly released manifesto that comes out in support of native rights but opposes the shale-gas industry and Mr. Charest's ambitious plan to develop northern Quebec.

Speculation is mounting that Mr. Charest will call an election at the beginning of August so that Quebeckers go to the polls on Sept. 4. CLASSE spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said such a scenario would be "cynical" of Mr. Charest.

"He knows very well that his party has been elected in the past when turnout has been low," Mr. Nadeau-Dubois told a news conference on Thursday. "That's the gamble he's taking. Let's hope it trips him up this time."

Students and the government have been at loggerheads for months over Mr. Charest's desire to hike university tuition fees.

Last spring was marked by repeated clashes between police and protesters, many of which turned violent.

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