Monday, May 21, 2012

More Montreal protests against Bill 78

Police pepper spray bar patrons in Montreal

This is the 27th consecutive night of protests in Montreal. Protests have surged if anything since a draconian new bill was passed by the Liberal Quebec government of Jean Charest. The bill has infuriated students who have for months been protesting planned tuition increases and have boycotted classes.

However, the new bill is opposed by a much wider group including unions, lawyers, and civil rights advocates. Another municipal bylaw has been passed in Montreal making it an offense to wear masks at demonstrations.

There was a large demonstration on Sunday night with about 5,000 people. They chanted:"Devrait pas nous f√Ęcher," (You shouldn't get us mad.)Demonstrators also gathered earlier at the University of Quebec in Montreal and headed downtown. The police declared the demonstration illegal under the terms of the newly passed laws which requires giving police notice of the event 8 hours before the demonstration and the route to be taken and at what time. Protesters reject such restrictions.

. Two journalists were arrested. One was wearing a ski mask to protect against chemical irritants.and suffered minor injuries. Both were released within half an hour.

The largest and most radical of the Quebec student groups CLASSE had hoped to broaden the movement beyond just student issues. The passage of the bill restricting protests seems to have done that. Several major Quebec labor unions as well as environmental and political groups oppose the new bill and have thrown support behind the protesters.

Michael Moore documentary film maker calls the Quebec student movement amazing. On Sunday he tweeted: "Canadians are in revolt in Quebec over new gov't law limiting democratic rights. No news of it in US press. Their uprising is inspiring #ggi." The most popular hashtag of the protest is #ggi (greve generale illimite (greneral unlimited strike)) The protests are primarily but not exclusively at Francophone institutions hence many of the protest signs are in French. The Quebec government website has been subject to cyber attacks. Student claim that about 150,000 college and university students are still on strike i.e. boycotting classes. For more see this article.

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