Standoff at CEGEP St. Laurent points to rising tensions
MONTREAL - About 200 student protesters blocked access to CEGEP St. Laurent on Friday morning during a tense standoff with police after being locked out of the building the night before.
It was just one more flashpoint in the battle over Quebec's planned tuition hikes, pitting the provincial government against student groups.
The CEGEP's administration said they decided to lock out students over the province's ongoing tuition strike.
But students said that they wanted to use the school's facilities to work on homework and lab reports.
Shadowed by riot police, about 100 students blocked the entrances to the school for eight hours before a deal was reached allowing 12 students in an internship program to use the building.
One student spokesman said talks had begun with the administration aimed at getting classes to resume, perhaps as early as Monday.
Amid the clash over tuition fees, there have been large, peaceful protests but also run-ins with police and the temporary shutdown of the Jacques Cartier Bridge earlier this week.
Last Friday, 37 students were arrested at CEGEP du Vieux Montreal after a clash with police.
Thousands of students intend to take their protest to Quebec City next week to the steps of the national assembly.
The Quebec government plans to nearly double tuition fees over five years, to $3,800. The government points out that the new sum will be far lower than the Canadian average for in-province students. Out-of-province Canadians studying in Quebec pay higher fees.
Student protesters call it a question of principle and argue that the hikes will deter some people from pursuing their education.
with files from The Canadian Press