Thousands of students demonstrate in Montreal over tuition hikes. The students have engaged in a strike for months., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Quebec struggle continues
Semi-nude youth demand end to tuition hikes, confront police
By G. Dunkel
Published Jun 18, 2012 8:46 PM
Demanding transparency in government, 3,000 mostly young people marched in the third nude protest since the struggle against the tuition hikes in Quebec began over three months ago. They aimed this protest at Montreal’s holding a gala for the Formula 1 race that generally brings 300,000 tourists to Montreal for the weekend.
Some 39 people were arrested by cops using tear gas, pepper spray and batons. Montreal police spokesperson Ian Lafreniere claimed most arrests occurred because “police had reason to believe they were preparing to commit crimes and damage property.” (Russian Television, June 8).
Protesters told reporters they went half-naked to emphasize their demand that the government be as transparent in negotiations as they are in the streets.
One striking picture that is circulating on the French-language blogs in Quebec shows a half-nude young woman with the message: “Have I caught your attention? Negotiate!” written on her chest, standing arm-in-arm with a young woman in a hijab while another woman in a hijab takes their picture.
The consecutive nightly demonstrations, now up to number 49, are continuing. Now, they are generally drawing hundreds of protesters rather than the thousands when the protests began. But they still keep the pressure on.
Montreal is a big tourist destination in the summer, and some of its biggest attractions — Just for Laughs and the Jazz Festival — are seeing signs that attendance will be down significantly. Small businesses in the tourist sector are seeing an average drop in revenue of over $12,000. (The Gazette, June 7)
The Charest government is opening up negotiations on June 15 with the teachers and staff in the institutions affected by the student strike. It is unclear what effect Special Law 78 will have on these workers’ rights.
This legislative anti-strike attack “provides for fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for any individual who prevents someone from entering an educational institution. The penalties climb to between $7,000 and $35,000 for a student leader and to between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations. In all cases, the fines will double for repeat offenders.” (Canadian Press, May 18)
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