Thursday, May 24, 2012

Almost 700 arrested in Quebec protests May 23rd

Pressure is mounting on the Liberal Quebec provincial government to do something about the continuing student protests other than simply arrest more people. Protests still occur nightly even after the passage of a draconian new law that can see many of those arrested facing large fines.

The Quebec Education Minister Michelle Courchesne noted that "the situation is really, really quite serious," and that a resolution must be reached. She said that a third round of talks with the three main Quebec student groups would happen in the next few days she promised. The province put forth policies earlier that were widely rejected when students voted on them. All three student groups including CLASSE the largest and most militant have agreed to resume negotiations. However a CLASSE spokesperson said:"If the government really wanted to show its intention to discuss with us, the best move would be to suspend or repeal Law 78," "That would have a concrete effect on tension in Montreal streets." However the Liberal government so far has refused to discuss Bill 78 the new laws governing protests. The Bill has actually broadened support for protests.

In Montreal alone last night police used the controversial tactic of kettling protesters and arrested at least 518 people. Many more were arrested in Quebec city. Demonstrations in both cities broke the provisions of the new law in that organizers would not give police descriptions of their routes.. Although kettling is widely used in Europe a recent report on G8 demonstrations in Toronto criticized the technique as it rounded up many uninvolved bystanders in the herd and they ended up being arrested and hauled away. Students have been protesting tuition hikes planned by the Charest government. Until now Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada. For more see this article.

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