Saturday, May 5, 2012

Victoriaville protest turn violent but student leaders meet with officials in Quebec City

The ruling Quebec Liberal Party decided that they would hold their weekend council meeting in Victoraiville in a smaller locale to avoid demonstrations. However bus loads of demonstrators were bussed in from Montreal and Quebec City to protest.

Although the protests began peacefully and were well organized by Friday evening there were clashes with police in the town east of Montreal. Both officers and protesters were injured in the protests and several arrests were made. One tweet claimed that a bus load of protesters returning to Montreal was pulled over by police and those on board arrested. However this report is not confirmed.

The air in the area was filled with chemical irritants causing people to cough and double over having trouble breathing. Even in the venue where the meeting was to take place there was the smell of tear gas.

About 1,000 protesters showed up. They were protesting not just the tuition hike but many other government policies. I include a video involving three representative from CLASSE the largest and most radical of the three main student unions in Quebec. Their agenda goes far beyond protesting tuition hikes and is directed against the entire neo-liberal agenda of the Quebec government and its austerity plans that are gutting the social safety net.

Student leaders have been in meetings with Quebec officials, University officials and some union leaders in an attempt to negotiate and end to the strikes and disruption. For once the three student leaders were unanimous in condemning the violence. The more radical group CLASSE has sometimes been at odds with other student union leaders. CLASSE represents roughly half of the 180,000 students who have been boycotting classes. For much more detail see this article.

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