Toronto marches in support of Quebec students
Students and labor activists marched through downtown Toronto in support of Quebec students, who have held nightly protests for months trying to head off a tuition increase.
Between 250 and 300 people gathered in the city center before a short march to a rally at Ryerson University in support of the three-month strike by students in Canada’s mostly French-speaking province.
“We’ve all been very inspired by the example of the Quebec student movement and we think, why not here?” said protest organizer Hugh Goldring.
Fred Hahn, the president of CUPE Ontario union marched in the protest and said he had encouraged other union members to join in.
“What is happening in Quebec is really about social justice, and it’s about people standing up for the kind of community that we all deserve,” he said.
Hahn said that members of CUPE Ontario had recently decided to donate $10,000 towards legal efforts after they heard from a Quebec student protester at a provincial convention.
Many of the protesters on Tuesday night wore red felt squares, a symbol adopted by the Quebec student movement. Some marchers went further by donning red shirts and bandanas.
“Students are angry, students are aware of what’s going on and students want to find out how to take action to make sure we don’t see regressive polices like the ones we’re seeing in Quebec,” said Sarah Jayne King, the chairperson of the Ontario division of the Canadian Federation of Students.
The protest was largely peaceful, with fewer participants than police had expected.
Another rally is planned for June 22, to coincide with a planned action in Quebec.
Talks in Quebec broke down last week after students rejected a government offer to reduce the tuition hike by $34 per year, which would bring the total increase to $1,473 per year over seven years instead of $1,708.
Since February, hundreds of protesters have been arrested and clashes have erupted sporadically as more than 165,000 students have refused to attend class and tens of thousands have taken part in nightly demonstrations.