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Thousands Continue Protest in Montreal after Government, Student Talks Fail

Common Dreams staff

Demonstrators march against the Quebec Government in Montreal. (AFP Photo/Rogerio Barbosa)

Up to 7,000 people took to the streets by mid-afternoon on Saturday, after Quebec government officials walked out on negotiations with student leaders.

Quebec students have been protesting since February over Quebec premier Jean Charest's move to sharply increase university tuition.

The protesters continue to defy Special Law 78, which requires organizers to give police at least eight hours advance warning of times and locations of protest marches. The law was passed during the student strike in what critics call a move to make protest illegal in the province.

"It's to continue to rally and show that we are still motivated even if summer is on its way," CLASSE leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois told reporters before the start of the protest.

Protesters vowed to keep marching every night until their demands are met.

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Montreal Gazette: Rainy Montreal student protest draws thousands

Multiple generations, many banging pots in unison, came as talks between the provincial government and student leaders collapsed on Thursday.

“This isn’t a student strike, it’s a society waking up,” read a banner at the front of the march, summarizing how this movement has expanded beyond an opposition to tuition fee hikes.

Speeches from student leaders at Molson Park, where the march ended, touched on Bill 78, the province’s new emergency law that limits protests, the Plan Nord project to develop natural resourced in northern Quebec, and what protesters see as the encroachment of neoliberal policies in the province.


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“We will show that Quebec is not a gas reserve, that the people are not tools for businesses,” a demonstrator said through a speaker truck at Molson Park at the end of the march.

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Agence France-Presse: Thousands protest tuition hikes in Montreal

Thousands of people took to the streets of Montreal Saturday braving driving rain to protest planned tuition hikes after talks between students and the Quebec government broke down.

Students, along with parents and their children, marched peacefully, many of them wearing costumes and playing music with trumpets, foghorns and pans.

CLASSE, the largest and most militant of the main student groups, said between 5,000 and 7,000 people were marching by mid-afternoon. It had called for the biggest protest since the start of the tuition crisis in February. [...]

A strong police presence, including dozens of vehicles, served to prevent any flare-up in the protest, after previous clashes in recent weeks. About 700 people were arrested in Montreal and Quebec City in a single night late last month after an emergency law was passed to limit the protests.

"I just paid off a Can$15,000 ($14,400) student loan," said Isabelle Farfeuille, 46.

"I am here for my children, so that they don't have to owe as much. I am ready to protest every single day, every night, until the talks lead to an agreement."

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