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Montreal Student Strike Continues after Classes Forced to Reopen

Two days of student protests, arrests after Bill 78 forces students back

- Common Dreams staff

(Quartier Libre/Tiffany Hamelin)

Student protests broke out on college campuses in Montreal for the second day in a row on Tuesday following the enforcement of a winter make-up term at all Quebec universities that were hit by student strikes earlier this year. As striking students marched through classrooms, banged on desks, and blew horns, Montreal police were called in and ultimately detained up to 21 protesters.

To make up for classes missed during last term's widespread student strike, Quebec students were required to return to class early this week in accordance with the contentious Bill 78. The bill, now known as the "anti-protest law," was passed earlier this year, spawning mass protests and Canada's largest act of civil disobedience.

This week's protesters were attempting to blockade classes at the University of Montreal and the University of Quebec at Montreal in a bid to continue their strike.

Confrontations between police and students have been ongoing since Monday on the campuses. At one point police confronted 50 protesters on the fourth floor of the Jean-Brillant building at the University of Montreal, who had locked themselves in the building, ignoring warnings from police to vacate the premises.

Following the protests, however, the University of Montreal announced Tuesday evening that it was suspending classes for the remainder of the week in the departments of anthropology, film studies, art history, East Asian studies, video-gaming studies and comparative literature. In total, 47 classes have been suspended in the departments in which student associations voted to continue their boycott.

FAÉCUM the student federation representing roughly 37,000 students at the University of Montreal, said they were happy with the school's decision to "reconsider their strategy" but criticized the administration for using excessive means to deal with the protesters.

"The measures they took were totally disproportionate. There were nearly 50 cop cars for maybe 50 protesting students," said federation spokesperson Alexandre Ducharme.

Over 31,000 students remain on strike across Quebec.Students demonstrate inside a classroom at the University of Quebec in Montreal on Monday, with anti-protest provisions of Quebec's Law 12 hanging over their heads. (CBC / Elias Abboud)Photo: RT/Image from Facebook/Hubert Pineault