Thousands march in peaceful anti-tuition hike protest
MONTREAL - Thousands of anti-tuition hike demonstrators congregated at Jeanne Mance Park for another protest which began at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The latest demonstration, one of countless recent marches to oppose tuition hikes, was branded to commemorate the anniversary of Jean Charest's ninth anniversary as Premier of Quebec.
One of the three student protest groups, known as the CLASSE, organized the rally and claimed the support of 140 community, union, feminist and other groups who oppose the tuition hikes.
"I would say that they're not only impacting my life in a negative way but their impacting the future of Quebec in a negative way," said Marc Philips who identified himself as a father and a banker in an interview with CTV Montreal.
Organizers had hoped for a diverse turnout and they appear to have succeeded.
"The idea is to have a weekend protest to gather not only students but also citizens, workers, all the people who have reasons to be angry against this Liberal government," said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a student protest organizer from the CLASSE group.
Others came to express their concern with other causes, such as a $200 annual fee for health care.
"Unfortunately in this society some people, $200 per year on this fund, the tax fund, it's a choice whether to feed their families or pay this contribution," said Roberto Bomba of the FIQ.
A provincial MNA from the small Quebec Solidaire party expressed concern with the management of the provincial budget.
"If we want to talk about debt let's talk about it let's talk about the tax cuts to big corporate business, tax cuts to banks, tax credits to multinationals pharmaceuticals, mining sector," said Amir Khadir of Quebec Solidaire.
The rally, called "For a Quebec Spring" involved the customary picket-hauling marchers, this time strolling downhill to Victoria Square.
In interviews conducted prior to the march, protest leaders denounced the Federation of CEGEPs which issued a statement Friday asking students to end their protests.
The CEGEP's request comes at a time when the student protest movement has been challenged by several legal injunctions forcing protesters to allow others to attend class.
Meanwhile, police arrested a 20-year-old man at his home at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in connection with two cases of vandalism, one at the University of Montreal and the other at the Montreal offices of Education Minister Line Beauchamp. He is the only one of eight people detained by police to face criminal charges.
On Friday seven were arrested in connection to the protest at the Education Ministry's Montreal office. Two were journalists at La Presse and were released unconditionally. Five others were fined.