Quebec Students Protest Tuition Fee Hike

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Thousands of protesters are on the move from Victoria Square in downtown Montreal in a demonstration organized by the most militant of Quebec's student groups, ASSÉ. (MIN_REYES, TWITTER)
Thousands of protesters are on the move from Victoria Square in downtown Montreal in a demonstration organized by the most militant of Quebec's student groups, ASSÉ. (MIN_REYES, TWITTER)

Montreal police say ten people were arrested for assaulting police officers during a protest in Montreal against the Quebec government's decision to increase tuition fees.

Police demanded protesters disperse after having made their way through the downtown core.

The protest, organized by the militant student group ASSÉ, was deemed illegal shortly after 2 p.m. ET.

Throughout most of the march, protesters threw snowballs toward police officers, who tried to control the crowd by forming barriers.

Earlier today, ASSÉ spokesman Jérémie Bédard-Wien said the group is opposed to the Parti Québécois government's decision to index tuition to the cost of living, which will increase fees by about three per cent, or $70 a year.

"Students will be there to remind the government that they didn't take part in six months of strikes to get an increase in tuition," he said.

Bédard-Wien said about 50,000 students from across the province opted to go on strike today, as a higher education summit wraps up following two-day gathering in Montreal.

The ASSÉ boycotted the summit because the government said it would not consider free tuition in order to improve access to universities.

Montreal police deemed the protest illegal because organizers failed to provide them with an itinerary.

The protest ended around 5 p.m. ET.

Members of the ASSÉ have already said that the possibility of a second "Maple Spring" is unlikely, as the last one took two years to mobilize.

Streets taken by protesters

Student groups 'disappointed' by education summit outcome

Martine Desjardins, the president of the Quebec University Student Federation (FEUQ), said the Parti Québécois government's decision to tack tuition to the inflation rate was disappointing.

"We are disappointed to see the government went ahead despite the absence of a consensus, but students aren't leaving empty-handed," she said.

After the summit wrapped up on Tuesday, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said was satisfied with the summit's outcome.

"The responsibility of the government is to decide, and I decided," she said.

Despite some disagreements, Desjardins said she was pleased the PQ agreed to discuss the mandatory fees charged by all institutions and launch several projects on student aid.

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