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Police presence pervades peaceful protest

Students and activists assembled under the rain in downtown Montreal to protest the tuition indexation announced by the Parti Québécois (PQ) at the two-day Summit on Higher Education held in late February.

In comparison to the protests of thousands that occurred more immediately after the Summit—which ended in violence and multiple arrests—last Tuesday’s demonstration featured fewer protestors and was peaceful through its entirety.

Protestors assembled at Place Émilie Gamelin at 8:00 p.m. before starting their march west along Sherbrooke. The protest then turned down Aylmer, and east on President Kennedy, before dispersing at the intersection of de Maisonneuve and St. Denis.

(Simon Poitrimolt / McGill Tribune)
(Simon Poitrimolt / McGill Tribune)

The planned demonstration was closely regulated by a large police force that shepherded the protestors away from side streets. The Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) outnumbered the protestors along the route, and accompanied the march on horseback, on bikes, and in riot gear, while closely containing the crowd.

This protest was the second of what is planned to be a program of weekly marches against tuition increases, or what some are calling the “Printemps Érable 2.0.”

Students who took part in the protest expressed concern for the impact of the proposed indexation, and the prohibitive cost of education.

“Let’s say if I didn’t have the money to attend college and buy books and such, as some people won’t if the indexation goes… society will dumb down and I’m definitely against that,” Andery Kolesov, a second-year fine arts student at Dawson College, said. “I think we’re supposed to progress and go towards new horizons.”

Other students, like Meloée Prud’homme, who is completing a Master in Biology at the Université de Montréal, fears that the financial impact the indexation could have on their daily lives.

(Simon Poitrimolt / McGill Tribune)
(Simon Poitrimolt / McGill Tribune)

“I have two kids, I’m alone, I have to [do] my master’s degree, and I have difficulties making ends meet, so [indexing tuition is] not a solution,” she said.

A feeling of disappointment with the PQ pervaded the march.

Prud’homme said she predicts that the PQ will now begin to act like the former Liberal government in their responses to protests last year.

“[The PQ is] going to pass us off as villains while we’re here marching passively,” she said.


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