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It was four o’clock on May 31, 2012, the 109th day of the Quebec student conflict. Michelle Courchesne, then Quebec’s recently appointed Minister of Education, left the building where she had met with representatives of the student associations for the last four days. Courchesne faced a media scrum where she announced that the talks had just broken down and declined to answer further questions from the press. “We won’t discuss this on a sidewalk,” said the minister, holding on to her documents. “Let’s meet in a proper press conference in a couple of hours.” When the student leaders emerged 30 minutes later, they were more than ready to talk to the media. By the time Premier Jean Charest began the government press conference just before 6:30 p.m., the students’ talking points were already widely disseminated, thanks not only to social media but also to news broadcasts and online editions of traditional media.

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