POLITICS

Some key recent events during Quebec's student protests over tuition hikes

04/26/2012 05:24 EDT | Updated 06/26/2012 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - A timeline of events in the tuition dispute between the Quebec government and student federations:

1990 — Robert Bourassa's Liberal government increases tuition from $500 to $1,600 —a $280 annual hike over four years. Thousands of students hit the streets, but Bourassa remains steadfast.

1996 — Strike involving some 100,000 students begins in October when then-Parti Quebecois education minister Pauline Marois tries to implement about a 30 per cent increase. She backtracks soon amid protests, reinstating tuition freeze until at least 2007.

2005 — Liberal government seeks to cut $103 million from financial aid. By mid-March, more than 200,000 students are on strike and, within a few weeks, the Liberals backtrack and restore the full amount.

2007 — Liberals announce tuition fee increase of $500 over five-year period.

August 2010 — Line Beauchamp becomes education minister in cabinet shuffle.

March 2011 — Finance Minister Raymond Bachand announces Quebec's intention to raise tuition fees, beginning in September 2012. Plan is to raise tuition by $325 a year over five years. Total increase will amount to an additional $1,625, raising Quebec tuition to $3,793 in 2017. Will remain among lowest in Canada.

August 2011 — Students formally begin campaign against tuition hikes, trying to convince government to back down.

Nov. 10, 2011 — Massive peaceful rally held in Montreal with promise from common front of student groups to ratchet up the pressure.

Feb. 13, 2012 — Student action officially begins with first groups voting in favour of a walkout.

Feb. 23 — Students pepper-sprayed after occupying Montreal's Jacques Cartier Bridge.

March 7 — During an altercation with police, student Francis Grenier is badly hurt in the eye. Students allege it is from a police stun grenade, although it is never confirmed. Grenier becomes rallying point for students who begin wearing patches over their right eyes in addition to red squares marking their protests.

March 21 — Students begin to increase pressure tactics aimed at disrupting Quebec economy. One group occupies Montreal's busy Champlain Bridge during rush hour. Each student fined $494.

March 22 — Massive, peaceful protest draws attention to growing student movement. More than 100,000 take part.

March 27 — Protesters block access to Quebec Liquor Board offices as students began to target economic symbols.

April 2 — The outside of Beauchamp's Montreal office is painted red. The building becomes popular rallying point during marches.

April 16 — Co-ordinated effort sees city's subway system shut after protesters threw bags full of bricks on to the tracks. Offices of four Quebec cabinet ministers vandalized, some with Molotov cocktails.

April 18-19 — More than 300 people arrested in Gatineau, Que., during confrontations between police and protesters at Universite du Quebec's Outaouais campus.

April 20-21 — Police and protesters clash in front of Montreal's convention centre where a job fair is being held on Premier Jean Charest's legacy project — a plan to develop northern Quebec. More than 100 protesters arrested during two days of violent skirmishes with riot police.

April 23 — Beginning of talks begin aimed at ending the protest, now into its 11th week.

April 25 — Talks break off abruptly, sparking massive protest on Montreal streets. Eighty-five people arrested by police, with damage to banks, cars and businesses.

April 26 — Students say they will return to the negotiating table but government refuses, saying student plan to allow two members of the most radical group a seat at the table is unacceptable.