Violent protest aftermath: Tuition negotiations come to an end
MONTREAL - Despite a 48-hour "truce" with the government, tuition-hike protesters have committed several cases of vandalism in Montreal.
As a result, Education Minister Line Beauchamp said that CLASSE was not acting in good faith and that the government would no longer negotiate with that group of students.
"We can no longer play with words, no longer play with ambiguity," said Beauchamp, claiming that CLASSE was demonstrating contempt for good faith discussions.
Multiple protests during "truce"
On Wednesday, three smoke bombs went off inside Complexe Desjardins during a tuition hike protest, while another three were placed, but did not detonate.
Nobody was hurt and police have not been able to track down the offenders.
That came on the heels of a Tuesday night demonstration in the streets of downtown Montreal, where some people threw rocks and broke the windows of an HSBC bank. on Rene Levesque Blvd. and St. Urbain St.
Montreal police declared the protest illegal and broke it up at around 10:30 p.m.
Police arrested seven people, two of whom were still detained at noon on Wednesday. One officer was injured.
Protesters at both marches were wearing the red square associated with the anti-tuition-hike movement, and a Facebook page listed details about the Tuesday night march.
It doesn't appear that the CLASSE student group organized the march, though it was listed on the group's website.
Several other peaceful protest marches took place Wednesday without incident, and a large-scale protest is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. at Place Emilie Gamelin.Line Beauchamp kicks CLASSE out of negotiations
On Wednesday afternoon Education Minister Line Beauchamp condemned the latest acts of vandalism and kicked the student group CLASSE out of negotiations.
Citing Tuesday's injury-inducing protest "I have decided that CLASSE has excluded itself from these negotiations," said Beauchamp.
"Other provocative protests have been promoted on CLASSE's website," said the minister.
She said the public has run out of patience, and its threshold for tolerance has been exceeded.
Beauchamp also believes people are taking advantage of the student unrest to promote other "social causes."
"We are faced with new acts of vandalism, of public mischief," said Beauchamp.
"I strongly feel these acts are unacceptable. I truly think this is intolerable, and one thing's for sure, these are acts that do not help anyone."
Talks began Monday after CLASSE voted to denounce violence that has taken place during tuition protests.
After Minister Beauchamp announced that CLASSE was no longer welcome at the negotiation table, the student federations FECQ and FEUQ said they would no longer negotiate with the government.
"We have no choice but to suspend our participation in the discussions until the situation is clarified," said Leo Bureau-Blouin, president of the Federation d'etudiante collegiale du Quebec.
"We do not think the minister has a justifiable reason to suspend CLASSE."
Martine Desjardins, president of the Federation etudiante universitaire du Quebec went further, accusing Beauchamp of "throwing fuel on the fire" with her demands that CLASSE denounce violent protests.
"CLASSE denounced the march last night, and they distanced themselves from it again this morning," said Desjardins. "The government has to stop its semantic games."