Thousands of protesters marched against planned tuition hikes in Montreal, opposing the Liberal government of Premier Jean Charest, two weeks before parliamentary elections.
“The people will vote to elect a new government and that new government will feel pressure from the students,” CEGEP college philosophy professor Martin Godon told AFP.
Godon, 49, is one of several “teachers against hikes.”
Students “have learned a lot about democracy, civics and engagement, and that’s worth all the diplomas they could receive,” he said, hoping the lessons “will impact youth voters” for the September 4 vote.
The presidents of two student unions, the Quebec Federation of College Students (FECQ) and the Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ), Eliane Laberge and Martine Desjardins, condemned the Charest administration’s plans.
“On September 4, citizens will remember how the Liberal Party has addressed the youth and people of Quebec,” said Laberge, while Desjardins reiterated her call against voting for parties failing to support students.
Jeanne Reynolds of the CLASSE student union complained about the lack of discussion about the students’ demands in the campaign debates.
Demonstrators dressed in black, their faces hidden by scarves, suspected of belonging to a black bloc of activists conducting illegal activities tore down signs for the Liberal Party during the march.
Minor damage aside, the march went smoothly. Police were present but did not intervene.
Around 10,000 people gathered for the event, a much smaller group than the May 22 protest, which mobilized tens of thousands.