NEWS

Student protesters face fines after blocking Montreal traffic

03/20/2012 10:11 EDT | Updated 05/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Two busloads of students were escorted to a police station in Candiac, Que., this morning after an hour-long demonstration blocked an access ramp to the busy Champlain Bridge into Montreal.

The students were expected to face fines of close to $500 for contravening the Highway Safety Act.

Northbound traffic was backed up heavily during the protest.

Quebec provincial police spokesperson Christine Coulombe said it appears the protest was linked to another one on the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

"It's a possibility that some students tried to make a diversion on the Jacques Cartier Bridge and the others went on the Champlain Bridge to block it," said Coulombe.

Student actions against planned tuition increases in Quebec have escalated in recent weeks, with daily gatherings occurring across the province.

Law school student Richard-Alexandre Laniel, who was protesting on the Champlain Bridge, told CBC News the students are frustrated with the government and feel they aren't being heard.

"Students are radicalizing their actions because they don't have a choice," Laniel said.

The provincial government says its planned tuition increases – an additional $325 for each of the next five years – would still leave Quebec with some of the lowest rates in the country, at $3,793 per year. Quebec's tuition for in-province students is now the lowest in the country, although students coming from other provinces pay more.

The province says the new rates will help ensure the quality and sustainability of Quebec's universities.

However, students protesting against the hikes say it is a question of values. They say higher fees will discourage some people from going to university, and they argue that money to pay for better schools is available from other sources in Quebec.

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