QUEBEC – Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the most polarizing figure at the centre of the student protests last semester, has been sentenced to 120 hours of community service for being in contempt of court.
He had already been found in contempt of court for urging students opposed to a tuition hike to block access to classes during Quebec’s tuition dispute – a charge he has denied and has now filed an appeal of the case.
His assistant, Renaud Poirier St. Pierre, said on Wednesday that the sentence won’t apply until the appeal has been heard. It was filed last week, he said.
On Twitter, Nadeau-Dubois said: “This is not over!” and said his case will be heard on Jan. 22.
When the case was heard last month, lawyer Maxime Roy, representing Jean-François Morasse, who obtained an injunction allowing him to return to class, called for a 30-day prison sentence or 150 hours of community work for Nadeau-Dubois, who was then a spokesman for CLASSE, the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante.
Giuseppe Sciortino, representing Nadeau-Dubois, argued his client should not be sentenced to “even one hour in prison,” saying imprisonment would make him a “scapegoat.”
In handing down sentencing, Justice Denis Jacques of Quebec Superior Court said Nadeau-Dubois hadn’t attempted “to explain or nuance his speech” and that he had “exceeded a fundamental rule of our society.”
Jérémie Bédard-Wien, a spokesperson for ASSÉ (which has replaced CLASSE), said on Wednesday that the association supports the appeal and feels the sentencing is wrong.
“As a point of principle, it is important to win this case,” he said. “The entire student movement stands behind him.”