Law enforcement officers in Montreal, Quebec, Canada fired grenades and tear gas into crowds of protesters on Friday as students demonstrated against tuition hikes in a rally that turned violent.
A clash between college students protesting the continuously increasing cost of education in Canada and police erupted on the streets of the city center. Hundreds of demonstrators are reported to have rallied in downtown Montreal against tuition hikes, only to be confronted with police in riot gear during the early afternoon.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation says police used batons, chemical irritants, tear gas and concussion grenades on the protesters. The demonstrators are reported to have met that firestorm with rocks and other projectiles. CTV reports that cars and media trucks have been damaged in the rally.
Watch video of the clashes
By mid-day, at least ten protesters were arrested by authorities and both demonstrators and law enforcement alike have reported to have incurred serious injuries after the students’ rally became marred by fighting on both sides.
"I wasn't doing anything violent," Nicolas Moran, 21, tells a CTV affiliate in Montreal. "A police officer hit me over the head… But I doubt the education minister will denounce violence from police," continued Moran.
Moran is a law student at the Université du Québec à Montréal and was one of many protesters that entered the city’s Palais des congrès on Friday where Premier Jean Charest was scheduled to deliver a speech. Moran suffered a head injury; at least one officer experienced the same.
Eight students were arrested as they entered the Palais and delayed Premier Charest’s speech by 45 minutes. The Canadian Press says Charest joked after the protesters were removed from the building that they were probably just trying to get one of the jobs he claims the investment will bring.
Premier Charest was expected to lecture on his Plan Nord, a massive development program expected to cost billions of dollars over the next two decades. CTV says Charest claims the initiative will create half a million jobs, but opponents such as Moran and other students say it doesn’t represent what Quebecers really want.
Michel Chossudovsky, the head of the Center for Research on Globalization, says that the reason for the anger is not just the tuition hike but the fact that the government puts the bill for their austerity measures on young people while spending billions in favor of corporations.
“I think that the demonstrations were held at the moment the prime minister decided to launch his Plan Nord, which has advantage of 1.6 billion [Canadian] dollars, is illustrative of the fact that this handout to corporations in millions and millions of dollars is financed at the expense of the livelihood of the young people of Quebec,” Chossudovsky told RT.
Increased tuition imposed on students there have only worsened sentiments between grievous Canadians and the country’s government.
“It’s not just the tuition increase,” 18-year-old Alexis Remartini adds to The Canadian Press. “The movement has grown to include other things we don’t agree with.”