Skip to main content

Québec Scholar, Thierry Giasson, presents on the 2012 Québec Student Demonstrations

December 31, 2013

Above: Thierry (second from left) with Denyse Delcourt (left), Hedwige Meyer & Alex Price, all with French & Italian Studies; and, Lucy Jarosz, Geography.

by Annie Banel, Graduate Student, Evan’s School of Public Affairs, Student Assistant, Canadian Studies Center

Giasson drew on his research background in political marketing, strategic communication by political parties, and framing in his analysis of the strikes. He focused on how government communications evolved during the crisis through a content analysis of 229 government statements from November 2011 to August 2012. Giasson included all government press releases during the crisis, media coverage of the government’s reactions to ongoing events, as well as government responses presented during Parliamentary debates in the Québec National Assembly were included in his content analysis. Giasson argued that the government’s shift from describing the demonstrations as “strikes” to calling them “boycotts” was one example of how the PLQ adjusted its narrative of the problem to its advantage.On November 26, 2013 Thierry Giasson, our visiting Québec Scholar, presented his talk “Québec Student Strikes of 2012: Red Squares, Fair Shares, and Boycotts.” Giasson expressed his fondness for the University of Washington, calling it his “academic home away from home.” Giasson said that the strikes were a traumatic experience for him and that as a university professor, Giasson had “zero distance” yet he was compelled to find a way to talk about the strikes.

Giasson’s presentation aimed to answer the provocative question of whether the government wanted the crisis to continue. Giasson argued that from a political marketing perspective, the crisis was in fact an example of well-managed wedge politics. Giasson argued that the PLQ used the crisis to prepare the electoral field with wedge politics. Giasson points out that Charest’s only television ad, 1.5 months before the election, should have been counted as an electoral ad as the ad did not talk about the tuition issue but rather communicated the government’s sense of responsibility. Through his content analysis of government communications, Giasson concluded that through their framing of the problem the government was able to control the agenda in a way favorable to them, polarize the electorate on an issue, and present the PLQ as strong on law and order as well as strong on the “right to education.”

Thierry Giasson is Associate Professor in the Information and Communication Department at Université Laval in Québec City. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Montreal. Dr. Giasson is the principal investigator of the research group in political communication (GPCR) from Université Laval. He is also an associate researcher at the Institute of Information Technology and Society at Université Laval and the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship (CSDC) from McGill University. Thierry served as the Center’s Québec Visiting Professor in 2006-07.

This event was made possible, in party, by Title VI grant funding from the Office of Postsecondary Education, International Education Program Services, U.S. Department of Education; and by a Québec Academic Initiative Grant, Government of Québec.