Quebec Student Protest Timeline Marks 100 Days

Posted: Updated:
QUEBEC STUDENT PROTEST TIMELINE
A protester a painted face takes take in a rally to mark the 100th day of the Quebec students strike, in Montreal, Tuesday, May 22, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz | CP

MONTREAL - A timeline of events in the tuition dispute between the Quebec government and student federations, which has sparked 100 days of unrest in the province:

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 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 24 — Nightly street protests begin in Montreal. They have since ebbed and flowed in size. Some have been brief and peaceful while others have been enormous and turbulent.

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 negotiating table but government refuses, saying student plan to allow two members of the most radical group a seat at the table is unacceptable. Police say there have been 160 protests over 72 days, just in Montreal.

April 27 — Government reveals offer to students: a slightly slower phase-in period for the hikes, more generous loans and bursaries, and future hikes indexed to inflation. It asks students to take time to consider the plan, but also go back to class.

May 4 — Ugly scenes in Victoriaville, Que., outside a Liberal convention. Multiple injuries, including critical ones, during confrontation between crowd and provincial riot police. A young protester loses an eye. Some people kick and beat a police officer.

May 5 — After marathon negotiating session, student groups and government reach deal to delay increases in cost of education for a few months pending a study by a new body. Student assemblies massively reject the offer, while some student faculties vote to end walkout and return to school.

May 10 — Smoke bombs set off at various points on the Montreal metro system during the morning rush hour, disrupting subway service on a rainy morning. Police release pictures of suspects snapped by other passengers' cellphone cameras. Four people arrested and detained for days. Supporters hold demonstration at Montreal courthouse, shoving aside media trying to cover event.

May 14 — Line Beauchamp resigns as education minister and is replaced by ex-education minister Michelle Courchesne.

May 16 — Protesters, many covering their faces with masks, storm into a university and move through hallways in pursuit of classes to disrupt. There are angry confrontations with students who want to be at school.

May 16 — Premier Charest announces plans for special law that will include pause in academic year for institutions affected by the walkouts.

May 17 — Government tables special legislation. It includes severe financial penalties for people blocking schools along with rules about how to protest. Protesters must inform police of their plans eight hours in advance, and police have the right to move a protest location.

May 18 — Special law passes, prompting opposition to declare a dark day in Quebec's history. On the same day, Montreal bylaw passes that would impose fines for wearing masks at certain protests. No fines have yet been imposed under either of those new rules, which are being habitually flouted.

May 19 — Montreal protest gets ugly, with bonfires and barricades in the street. Police accused of using excessive force on peaceful members of the crowd, such as pepper-spraying a patio full of bar patrons. On ''Saturday Night Live,'' Montreal-based rock band Arcade Fire takes to the stage wearing red squares, next to icon Mick Jagger.

May 20-21 — Huge nightly protests continue during Victoria Day weekend. C.L.A.S.S.E. group takes tougher stand on the special law, announcing plans to defy it.

May 22 — On 100th day of the student strike, tens of thousands of people participate in huge Montreal march. Many intentionally flout provincial law by wandering off pre-announced path. Solidarity demonstrations are held in Paris, New York, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Labour unions outside Quebec pledge continued support of strikers' cause.

Also on The Huffington Post

Close
MONTREAL PROTEST -- MAY 20
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction