Massive Student Protest Fills Streets of Montreal after Proposed 'Emergency' Law
Thousands of students react after Quebec tries to make their strike illegal
Thousands of student protesters flooded the streets in Montreal last night after Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced a proposal for a new 'emergency law' in a bid to end the ongoing 14 week old student uprising and strike.
The proposed legislation would halt the spring semester, push up the summer holidays, and restart classes in August. The move would maneuver around the current student strike and walkouts, moving classes to later in the year, in an effort to 'restore calm'.
The government also hinted at severe penalties for anyone who tries to picket or prevent students from entering classrooms; further details about the extent of the law and its penalties will be released today.
The demonstrations on Wednesday night followed this announcement, as several thousand students met with police, who have started cracking down on the protests across Quebec. Up to 122 students were arrested, as "the acrid scent of police crowd-control chemicals billowed in the cool nocturnal air," National Post/CA reports. "This on a night when Charest shared plans to clean things up."
* * *
* * *
The unrest on Wednesday night followed the Quebec government’s announcement it would suspend the current academic session for striking students in an effort to calm things down.
It also hinted at more punitive measures, without sharing details. [...]
In that charged atmosphere, thousands of chanting students spilled into the streets of Montreal, marching straight to the city’s main commercial district. Their demonstration was peaceful until some rocks apparently thrown at police resulted in riot squad charges to clear Ste-Catherine Street. [...]
Authorities reported 122 arrests, three injured police officers and also some injured protesters.
Charest’s legislation would temporarily halt the spring semester for the minority of faculties paralyzed by the walkouts; push up the summer holidays; and reconvene students in August so they can complete their session before starting the fall one in October.
The government also hinted at severe penalties for anyone who tries to picket or otherwise prevent students from entering classrooms.
Charest did not answer when asked about reports of stiff fines. He simply said those details would be revealed when the legislation is tabled — perhaps as early as Thursday.
He did make it clear the legislation will target the crowds of protesters who have blocked access to schools and even stormed into classrooms in an attempt to enforce what they call a legal strike.
* * *
Associated Press: Emergency law considered in Quebec student protest
Quebec was set to consider emergency legislation Thursday aimed at calming weeks of student protests over rising tuition costs, after thousands took to the streets once again and more than 100 were arrested.
Authorities said 122 were arrested late Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators spilled into the streets of Montreal, with some smashing bank windows and hurling objects at police.
Legislation could be introduced as early as Thursday amid student strikes. Dozens of protesters on Wednesday stormed into one Montreal university for the first time, breaking up classes.
Premier Jean Charest said he would table emergency legislation aimed at ending the disorder, while sticking to the planned tuition hikes.
# # #