No Trucks Go

CLASSE Demonstration Blocks Port of Montreal

Photos Brian Lapuz
Photos Brian Lapuz
Photos Brian Lapuz

A group of about 300 blocked an entrance to the Port of Montreal the morning of March 28.

Organized by the Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, the blockade was part of a string of daily demonstrations aimed at persuading the Charest government to begin negotiations with students over tuition hikes slated to begin in September.

“The goal of the action is to disturb the economy of Montreal, the economy of Quebec,” said CLASSE co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

“We’ve been on strike for six weeks now and have tried many ways to get our voices heard, but this government refuses to even open a dialogue with us.”

The demonstration began at CEGEP Maisonneuve, marching down Pie-IX Boul. to the Port of Montreal 300 strong.

“As a union worker I’ll never cross a picket line,” said Richard Choquette, a driver for Sucre Lantic who was stuck for two hours.

“I support the protest, maybe there have to be tuition increases in some places but not at the speed and size proposed.”

After two hours of preventing trucks from passing through the Pie-IX port entrance, protesters quickly moved to the second entrance at Viau Rd. and Notre-Dame St. E.

The Service de police de la ville de Montréal’s riot squad was already waiting inside the port entrance.

Protesters yelled at the riot squad and police were quick to pepper spray them. The majority of protesters were content blocking traffic, but some linked arms and refused to move.

More riot police were deployed and a stun grenade exploded in the air amid pushing and pepper spray.

After the scuffle with riot police, the demonstrators took Ste. Catherine. St. E. and returned to the Pie-IX entrance, where protesters spoke to drivers stuck in traffic and handed out red squares. The reactions of commuters were mixed, but none seemed furious at being held up by the protest.

After about ten minutes, they marched west by way of Ontario St. E. Several marches continued throughout the day.

“We’re at the point where we do more dissenting acts like this morning at the Port of Montreal,” said Nadeau-Dubois. “Charest opened the door a little bit on the planning of financial aid, but what we want him to remember is this strike isn’t about financial aid, it’s about tuition fees.”

“It’s about accessible education, and that’s what we want to talk to him about at the discussion table.”

The morning of March 29, Finance Minister Line Beauchamp spoke of possible negotiation with students, if they take a full tuition freeze off the table.

With files from Brian Lapuz