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Thousands March in Canada's Casseroles Night

Common Dreams staff

Casserole Night in Halifax, Nova Scotia -- 150 enthusiastic people from all walks of life took to the streets last night in a show of solidarity with the ongoing protests in Quebec. (Photo/Miles Howe)

Thousands banged pots and pans as they marched in more than 70 cities all across Canada Wednesday night. The spreading "casserole" protests have erupted in Quebec as thousands of non-students have joined with the students to demand an end to austerity measures and Bill 78, which bans unauthorized public assemblies and curtails the right to protest.

People cheer from their porches as processions of marchers pass through the streets.

Casserole rallies — or cacerolazos — originated in Latin American countries as a form of popular protest where people bang pots and pans.

Meanwhile, Quebec's emergency anti-protest legislation - Bill 78 - has now drawn the attention of the United Nations.

Two UN experts on freedom of expression have raised concerns about Quebec demonstrations which took place on May 24 that involved “serious acts of violence” and the detention of up to 700 protesters.

They urged the provincial government to respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students.

“The recently adopted legislation unduly restricts students’ rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly in Quebec,” warned Maina Kiai, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Kiai said fines ranging up to $125,000 that are included in the law are “disproportionate” and warned that a municipal regulation requiring protesters to provide their itinerary in advance should not be “misused to restrict the legitimate right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”

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The Toronto Sun reports:

TORONTO - More than 1,000 people, banging pots and pans with wooden spoons, gathered in Dufferin Grove Park Wednesday to mimic similar student protests across Canada.

The group was rallying against austerity and for affordable tuition for students. It was among seven protests planned in Toronto Wednesday.

"It's partially inspired by what's happening in Quebec, but we're hoping people will make that local connection too," organizer Leila Pourtavaf said. [...]

"The right to protest is one of the most legitimate forms of democracy," said Madison Trusolino, 22, who graduated from York University.

Trusolino, who will go back to school in September, said even a slight increase in student fees is overwhelming.

"Quebec is representing what young people are feeling, which is the Baby Boomer generation has created a climate of perpetuating debt," she said.

"Any rise in tuition is unacceptable. We're going to spend the rest of our lives in debt just to get the education we deserve."

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