CEGEP Students Take Action

Another Budget Protest Turns Ugly

Photo Riley Sparks
Photo Riley Sparks
Photo Riley Sparks
Photo Riley Sparks
Photo Riley Sparks
Photo Riley Sparks

For the second week in a row, students clashed with riot police in downtown Montreal during a protest against Quebec’s new austerity budget.

On March 31, thousands of CEGEP students blocked traffic, chanted in favour of a general strike and marched on Premier Charest’s office protesting tuition hikes and increases in user fees outlined in the Liberals’ 2011-2012 budget.

“There’s one word that comes to mind when we speak about this budget,” said activist Valerie Laflamme over a megaphone. “And that word is bullshit. The government keeps marginalizing the most marginalized and we’ve had enough.”

Towards the end of the day, a few hundred protesters broke off from the crowd and headed east to support a sit-in at the offices of the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities.

The protesters were met with several dozen riot police outside of the CREPUQ’s offices, where the violence began.

After a few isolated exchanges between police and students, the riot squad used mace and at least three flashbangs to disperse the crowd.

One protester was trampled by a heard of police and carted off in handcuffs. He was among the six arrested yesterday.

The demonstration was the latest action taken by L’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, a group that represents 40,000 across Quebec, in its fight against tuition hikes.

Yesterday five CEGEP’s and thousands of university students represented by ASSE went on strike. Last week, a protest organized by the group ended with a standoff between police, security guards and students inside the Minister of Finance’s Montreal offices.

During the altercation, a security guard shoved a student’s head through a glass door and police used mace to disperse the crowd.

According to one of the rallies speakers, this is just the beginning of the fight against increased tuition.

“We will block the streets and highways, we will paralyze Quebec if we have to,” said Arnaud Theurillat-Cloutier to the thousands in attendance.