Grand Prix cancels 'Open House' day
Published Sunday, June 3, 2012 2:25PM EDT
MONTREAL - Grand Prix 'Open House' day has been cancelled as a safety precaution against the threat of student action, organizers announced Sunday.
"It's free admission and we thought that with all the threats that been receiving against the Grand Prix, it was the best decision to take," said organizer Francois Dumontier. "(The event) brings a lot of people very close to the cars and very close to the drivers. You never know. We can't take that risk."
The popular open house is traditionally a free event held on the Thursday ahead before qualifying and practice events begin Friday. The Formula One race takes place Sunday.
During open house, Formula One racing fans can gain access to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and watch racing crews in their garages as they ready the open-wheel cars for the race.
Student leaders have already said they plan to disrupt the F1 race and accompanying events to gain visibility for the student movement.
Dumontier said he's not as concerned about the paid events, because the cost of tickets should keep protesters out of the stands, and there will be very tight security at the track, he said.
"We're pretty confident about it. It's quite different from the 'Open House' day. Everybody got a ticket to come at least to the race over the weekend," he said.
Meantime, Gilbert Rozon, president of the French comedy festival Juste Pour Rire, is set to sit down Monday to talks with student leaders in an effort to convince them not to disrupt the 30th annual event.
Ticket sales are down 50 per cent, so Rozon is seeking to convince students not to disrupt his and other major summer events.
"At least tell people that are peacefully coming to these festivals and for the outdoor free activities that there will be no violence and that their security will be ensured," he said.
The talks come after thousands upon thousands of students and supporters marched through Montreal's Plateau and Rosemont boroughs Saturday despite soggy weather.
The festive march saw students and supporters young and old taking to the streets once again to speak out about their frustration over the lack of progress in tuition talks and Charest's enactment of Bill 78, meant to place tight restrictions on protests.
The movement has gripped Quebec for four months, with no end in sight, after talks between students and the government over planned tuition increases broke down on Thursday.
CLASSE spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said it would continue to hold demonstrations even if it means disrupting the tourist season -- and getting fined under the new legislation.
"We are going to hand out (pamphlets) so that tourists who visit Quebec will know what's going on here, and so they understand why they see images of protests on television every day," Nadeau-Dubois told reporters prior to the march Saturday.
He acknowledged, however, that it could be difficult to keep the pressure on the government as students leave Montreal for the summer and take on jobs.
"There might be smaller protests, but more of them across the province," he said. "We will be announcing several large protests in Montreal throughout the summer to keep up momentum."
He assured, however, that the goal is not to prevent people from participating in events or put their safety at risk.
Student leader Martine Desjardins of FEUQ said students don't plan on directly disrupting festivals or the Grand Prix.
"As far as the FEUQ is concerned, we won't disrupt any event, because we need to have the public opinion behind us," she said.
Premier Jean Charest would not discuss the Grand Prix 'Open House' cancellation or Juste Pour Rire's scheduled talks with students.
CLASSE met for a convention Sunday in Valleyfield to review its plans to mobilize students against the government on the tuition issue.
Nadeau-Dubois and another CLASSE spokesperson, Jeanne Reynolds, will also ask the congress for a reappointment.
With files from La Presse Canadienne and The Canadian Press