Quebec students protest against tuition fee increases
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, March 5, 2013 8:54PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 5, 2013 9:15PM EST
MONTREAL -- Quebec students are on the march again over tuition fees.
Thousands turned out for a nighttime protest in Montreal against the Quebec government's decision to raise fees by three per cent per year after a summit last month on education.
Many students believe the government should have frozen tuition fees.
The noisy march was a rekindling of the nightly protests that took place during last year's student unrest.
While most were peaceful, some of those marches turned violent and resulted in mass arrests.
Tuesday's protest drew a heavy police presence as demonstrators chanted, set off noisemakers and waved banners during their march through the city core.
"One, two, three, four, this is a class war," yelled some protesters in English, while others called on demonstrators to "take to the streets" in French.
Police declared the march illegal almost immediately as organizers failed to provide a route for the protest as required by municipal bylaws. Officers allowed the protest to proceed, however, as long as it remained peaceful.
Quebec's student strikes began in February 2012 after then-premier Jean Charest's government announced tuition increases of $1,625 spread over five years.
The Parti Quebecois cancelled the Liberals' plan after it took power following the Sept. 4 provincial election. The PQ's increase will raise tuition by $70 per year.
Tuesday night's protest was spurred after last month's long-awaited summit on education where student leaders had hoped to win a freeze on tuition.
A demonstration took place on Feb. 26 after the government announced its three-per-cent-per-year increases.
Premier Pauline Marois left the summit proclaiming an end to social unrest but within hours student marchers were clashing with police, resulting in 13 arrests.
The scene was reminiscent of Quebec's so-called Maple Spring, which made news around the world.
Class boycotts followed as did nightly marches which were mostly peaceful, but which sometimes degenerated into projectile-throwing melees and scuffles with riot police.
In at least one case, police rounded up more than 500 people after corralling demonstrators on a downtown street.
One of the most rowdy clashes was during the weekend of the Montreal Grand Prix, when fires were set and windows were smashed as police battled demonstrators.
The nightly demonstrations also gained recognition for their rallying cry, which usually happened promptly at 8 p.m. and saw people banging pots and pans in neighbourhoods around Montreal and in other parts of the province.