Concordia Students Join ASSÉ Demo During Province-wide Strike
Around 3,000 students and supporters marched through the streets of Downtown Montreal on Thursday to denounce the Quebec Liberal government’s austerity measures.
The march lasted nearly three hours and eventually ended with a hundred or so remaining protesters dispersing at the entrance of Berri metro station on Ste. Catherine St.
Montreal police confirmed that one person was arrested during the march for breaking a municipal bylaw, but could not confirm the nature of the offense by press time.
Before the march got underway, several speakers from student and teachers’ organizations spoke about the importance of a united front for Quebec’s anti-austerity movement. Among the speakers was Sylvain Mallette, president of the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE), Montreal’s largest teachers’ group, which walked away from contract negotiations with the province on Tuesday.
“Together, we are all fighting the same battle,” Mallette told the enthusiastic crowd. “A fight against austerity, a fight against the obsession of one man—[Premier] Philippe Couillard—who decided to abandon public schools and those who attend them.”
The protesters gathered in Montreal’s Old Port at 1 p.m. for the event, which was organized by the Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ), on a day that saw some 50,000 students on strike in Quebec. The student group made the call on social media for supporters to gather in order “to assert together that this fall, austerity will not pass.”
The crowd of protesters also included a contingent of students from Concordia, who walked from the Hall-building to the the march’s start point on St. Laurent Blvd. and de la Commune St.
Striking student groups from Concordia included the The Sociology and Anthropology Graduate Student Association (SAGSA), the Graduate Philosophy Students Association (GPSA), the Liberal Arts Society (LAS) and the School of Community and Public Affairs Student Association (SCPASA).
The police presence was generally light, but thickened as the march continued, with about four dozen riot officers on the ground toward the end of the demonstration.
There were a few tense standoffs between some more militant protesters and police officers who blocked access to certain streets. One such confrontation on the corner of Rachel St. E. and Rivard St. resulted in the only arrest of the day.
Despite scattered tense moments, where some protesters shouted angrily at riot police officers, the crowd remained generally peaceful, and respected police orders to march down certain streets until the march came to a close around 4 p.m.