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NEWS: Hundreds of students arrested in protests against tuition hikes

Roxanne Dubois and Council of Canadians Board member Chief Garry John at Indignez-Vous!, October 2011.

Roxanne Dubois and Council of Canadians Board member Chief Garry John at Indignez-Vous!, October 2011.

Students in Québec have been on strike for ten weeks opposing the Jean Charest government’s proposed tuition fee hikes.

Late this afternoon, the Montreal Gazette reports, “Police in several Quebec cities clashed with student protesters Thursday… In Gatineau, Que., police arrested over 150 students following demonstrations… Police used pepper spray on student demonstrators at the St-Jean Bosco junior college during a third day of confrontation in the city, part of widespread protests against an impending tuition fee increase in the province. The students marched on the college minutes after a group of about 75 demonstrators muscled aside police guarding the doors at the Universite du Quebec en Outaouais and forced their way inside the locked building.”

“Meanwhile, protests at Quebec City’s Limoilou junior college Thursday led to 49 arrests.”

“And in Montreal, a group of about 200 demonstrators moved randomly through the downtown core on Thursday morning, running through traffic, throwing garbage cans and blocking the entrance to a bank before police intervened. …It was unclear what happened to the second group, but several dozen people were soon spotted blocking the entrance to a branch of the CIBC. Police intervened about 8:30 a.m., spraying what appeared to be smoke or a chemical irritant into the crowd.”

“(Yesterday), 161 protesters were arrested for blocking the road near the Universite du Quebec en Outaouais.”

The Canadian Federation of Students
Commenting on the arrests yesterday, the Canadian Federation of Students issued a media release stating, “The right to assemble and peacefully protest came under attack yesterday at the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) campus. Riot police kettled and arrested more than 100 student strikers and their supporters protesting government imposed tuition fee hikes. Reports indicate that anyone wearing a red square, the symbol of support for the student strike, were being prevented from accessing their campus.” Roxanne Dubois, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, said, “Using police force to disperse student strikers is a suppression of the freedom of assembly.”

The Council of Canadians
Numerous Council of Canadians chapters participated in the February 1 national day of action organized by the Canadian Federation of Students. The Comox Valley Record reported at that time, “Gwyn Frayne, from the Comox Valley chapter of the Council of Canadians, spoke (at the rally) about her post-secondary experience. ‘When I went to university I was able to cover the costs by working in the summer and over the year,’ said Frayne. ‘Now, I’m not even sure that my grandkids can go to college, and that is not right.’”

The Council of Canadians continues to stand in solidarity with the Canadian Federation of Students, FEUQ, FECQ and CLASSE and all students in Québec in their strike efforts.

For updates from them, please see http://www.cfs-fcee.ca/html/english/home/index.php.