It’s a sobering morning in Montreal, with people walking along shattered windows and debris left by an angry mob of student protesters who clashed with police yesterday evening. The Montreal Gazette says that as talks between student groups and politicians over a proposed hike for post-secondary tuition fees broke off Wednesday, about 5,000 people took to the streets and a pacific protest quickly got out of control.
Police “used batons, pepper spray and percussion bombs to disperse the crowd” and 85 people have been arrested.
It’s been 11 weeks since protests began over the Jean Charest’s government proposed fee increases. As the Globe reports today, students are losing popular support in Quebec as their demands become more and more vague, and some of the groups in negotiations with the government have failed to condemn the use of violence.
From the Globe:
Some students are now casting this as a deeper struggle – with the phrase, “Quebec Spring,” emanating from the lips of several protesters who Wednesday issued a medley of demands: the resignation of Premier Jean Charest, a general election, the complete elimination of tuition, or even broader social change.
The Globe goes on to suggest that this might even be a political win for Charest and the Quebec Liberals, who could seize the opportunity to call for an election while they continue to score good points with those opposing the student protests—and avoid an election later in the year, when focus could return to allegations of corruption within the Charest administration.