Week 14: Still In The Streets
New Education Minister, More Protests
After 14 long weeks, the Quebec student strike continues to rattle the province. This week in particular brought a myriad of shake-ups.
New Education Minister
Line Beauchamp announced on May 14th that she had made a personal choice to step down as Education Minister of Quebec.
“I’m not resigning before violence and intimidation,” said Beauchamp. “I’m resigning because I feel I’m no longer part of the solution.”
She also resigned from her seat at the Quebec National Assembly.
Beauchamp cited the impossibility to reach a compromise with the student leaders as the main reason for her resignation.
“I’m making the ultimate compromise,” she said. “I give up my seat.”
Quebec Premier Jean Charest thanked Beauchamp for her work, adding that his government’s determination “is very strong.”
Michelle Courchesne, former education minister from 2007 to 2010, was sworn into duty on the same afternoon. She announced she would meet students groups on May 15th in Quebec City and then report back to the government on the situation.
No Independent Inquiry Into Victoriaville: SQ
The Sécurité du Québec announced it will not have an independent inquiry into the event of the Victoriaville riots, despite numerous calls from the public and even political figures, including Quebec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir.
Amnesty International called for an inquiry on May 14 citing the “number of people injured, the repeated use of irritant gas,” and the “high number of arrests and their circumstances.” The human rights organization cites the March 25th demonstration and the SQ intervention on May 4th
Power Corps Annual Shareholder Meeting Disturbed
Approximately 200 protesters gathered around 10 a.m. at the Intercontinental Hotel in Montreal on May 15th to disrupt Power Corporation of Canada’s annual shareholder meeting.
The first clashes happened after 30 minutes when protesters approached police officers blocking access to the hotel. Police used pepper-spray on the crowd before deploying riot police, mounted police, and police on bicycles to form three separate lines of defence against the advancing group.
The protesters soon left, marching to Jacques Cartier bridge. They momentarily blocked access to the Ville-Marie expressway before returning to the Intercontinental hotel.
Citing physical altercations between students and bystanders, the SPVM declared the demonstration illegal around 2pm.
Police in riot gear then dispersed the students.
At press time the SPVM confirmed 2 arrests had been made.
Following the March 22nd demonstration where between 100,000 and 200,000 students marched through downtown Montreal, a new march is scheduled for May 22nd.
At press time more than 7,000 people indicated their attendance to the event.
As nightly student demonstration is now becoming a tradition, the 22nd consecutive march is scheduled to kick off at 8:30pm, Parc Emile Gamelin on May 15.