Students Block Access to Two Government Buildings in Quebec; Run into Police: Rowdy Student Protests in Montreal, Quebec

By Rakobowchuk, Peter | The Canadian Press, March 27, 2012 | Go to article overview

Students Block Access to Two Government Buildings in Quebec; Run into Police: Rowdy Student Protests in Montreal, Quebec


Rakobowchuk, Peter, The Canadian Press


MONTREAL - Students blocked access to government buildings in several Quebec cities on Tuesday, leading to showdowns with police that saw one of the crowds pepper-sprayed.

A spraying incident in Montreal happened after just under 200 people blocked off the offices of the provincial liquor board, preventing people from getting to work.

One liquor board security guard suffered cuts to his face after scuffling with students as he tried to get into the building. Other employees were seen heading home.

One protester was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer.

"We had to intervene because of a request from the owner of the location," Lt. Ian Lafreniere, a Montreal police spokesman.

"There was a lot of physical resistance. The young people didn't want to leave. So there was an intervention with the tactical squad, and eventually we had to use chemical irritants."

Students are up in arms over the Charest government's plan to nearly double tuition fees over five years, to $3,800 per year. The government will reach its target with a series of $325-a-year increases which, it says, will still leave the province with among the lowest fees in Canada even after the hikes.

A similar protest tactic reportedly blocked access to a Hydro-Quebec building in Rimouski. Meanwhile, in Quebec City, about 75 people cut off access to offices of the provincial Finance Department. Some civil servants needed a police escort to get into their offices.

Marie-Christine Trottier, a spokeswoman for the group in Quebec City, says the goal was to disrupt work at the offices.

"It's an office with 400 employees and making them lose a few hours of work might have a significant impact," Trottier said. "We hope that by disturbing the office it sends a message to (Finance) Minister (Raymond) Bachand. …

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