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Families And Teachers Join Tuition Protests

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Student groups are hosting family-oriented protests across Quebec Sunday against the government's planned tuition fee hikes.

Protests and marches are taking place in Montreal, Sherbrooke, Quebec City and Alma.

Thousands gathered in Parc Lafontaine in Montreal before marching down Saint Denis Street towards the offices of the Ministry of Education.

Sunday's protests follow several hundred teachers gathering for a symbolic protest in downtown Montreal Saturday.

Teachers gathered in front of the controversial Ilot Voyageur, a building which was meant to become an integral part of l'Université du Quebec à Montréal (UQAM). They used a giant pair of scissors to cut a red ribbon and symbolically inaugurate the half-vacant building.

Part of the Ilot Voyageur now houses the city's bus terminal, but the rest is half-built and abandoned. UQAM started the project in 2005 but had to give up after falling heavily into debt.

The provincial government ended up buying the university out, costing taxpayers $500 million.

Martin Godon, a professor at CEGEP du Vieux Montréal, said it's a clear example of mismanagement.

"For me it represents a great failure, the failure of the management of our education system," said Godon.

Some opponents of the government's planned tuition hike of $1,625 over five years have argued universities are facing mismanagement problems, rather than under funding.

"The problem is that the money doesn't go to the right places, and we think that building there is a pretty good example of mismanagement," said Cégep Joliette teacher Anne-Marie Belanger.

Disrupted dinner

A group of students found a way to take their message directly to Premier Jean Charest Saturday night.

About 30 tried to disrupt the premier's dinner at the Pied Du Cochon restaurant on Duluth Street in Montreal.

Some unfurled a banners in front of the restaurant and at the back, while others banged on garbage cans and chanted.

Montreal police showed up and students dispersed a short time later.

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