Home Thousands take to streets to protest budget

Thousands take to streets to protest budget

by admin April 6, 2010

Thousands take to streets to protest budget

by admin April 6, 2010

Phillips Square was packed April 1, as lobby groups representing workers from across the province convened to voice their discontent with provincial budget.
Womens’ groups, workers’ unions, teachers’ associations, university students and people representing regions across Quebec crammed the streets surrounding the square in downtown Montreal, shutting down traffic in the area.
Some of the main concerns stemming from Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand’s 2010 budget include the new medical flat tax Quebecers will begin paying this year, and the post-secondary education tuition increases in 2012.

Erik Chevrier, a masters student in Concordia University’s special individualized programs and vice president external for the Graduate Students Association, said he attended the event in solidarity with all those who were not pleased, or negatively affected by the budget.
“It seems like people are quite pissed off,” he said. “I haven’t heard one person speak positively about the budget.”
Bachand’s budget, laden with increased charges in public services as well as sales and fuel tax hikes, was trumpeted as a way to bring the province out of the red. And while the provincial budget has not yet been passed in the National Assembly, there is little chance it will be altered as Premier Jean Charest has a majority government.
Students formed a large part of the crowd as they attended en mass to protest the proposed tuition increase set to start in 2012. A slew of signs reading “Education is a right, not a luxury,” “Our education is not for sale,” and “Over our student bodies,” could be seen scattered throughout the demonstration.

Another hot issue for the crowd was the new health care costs.

Demonstrators made their feelings known with signs reading, “We will not pay for their crisis” and “I have a kidney to sell, but Charest needs a heart.”

Rushdia Mehreen, a geography and planning major at Concordia, attended the event to protest the tuition hikes as well as the new health charges.

“The worst is people who are sick have to pay more often,” she said, noting that when people are sick they miss work, so with the new tax they will be forced to pay more money while not actually earning much.

For the most part, police presence was visible but minimal around Phillips Square, as bike patrol officers circled the crowd but did not intervene, and police cars blocked traffic for a block around the area. The presence was heightened, however, as protesters marched east down Ste. Catherine St. shortly before 2 p.m., headed for the finance minister’s office in Old Montreal. Police in riot gear blocked the building, but a small group of protesters reportedly forced their way inside, damaging doors, overturning plants and spray painting graffiti inside the building. One man was arrested on scene for breaking and entering.

Despite the small group inside the building, the protest was a peaceful one. Mehreen was impressed and pleased with the size of the crowd that came out for the demonstration. “This is great, there’s good mobility,” she said. “We have to make them hear our outrage.”

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Phillips Square was packed April 1, as lobby groups representing workers from across the province convened to voice their discontent with provincial budget.
Womens’ groups, workers’ unions, teachers’ associations, university students and people representing regions across Quebec crammed the streets surrounding the square in downtown Montreal, shutting down traffic in the area.
Some of the main concerns stemming from Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand’s 2010 budget include the new medical flat tax Quebecers will begin paying this year, and the post-secondary education tuition increases in 2012.

Erik Chevrier, a masters student in Concordia University’s special individualized programs and vice president external for the Graduate Students Association, said he attended the event in solidarity with all those who were not pleased, or negatively affected by the budget.
“It seems like people are quite pissed off,” he said. “I haven’t heard one person speak positively about the budget.”
Bachand’s budget, laden with increased charges in public services as well as sales and fuel tax hikes, was trumpeted as a way to bring the province out of the red. And while the provincial budget has not yet been passed in the National Assembly, there is little chance it will be altered as Premier Jean Charest has a majority government.
Students formed a large part of the crowd as they attended en mass to protest the proposed tuition increase set to start in 2012. A slew of signs reading “Education is a right, not a luxury,” “Our education is not for sale,” and “Over our student bodies,” could be seen scattered throughout the demonstration.

Another hot issue for the crowd was the new health care costs.

Demonstrators made their feelings known with signs reading, “We will not pay for their crisis” and “I have a kidney to sell, but Charest needs a heart.”

Rushdia Mehreen, a geography and planning major at Concordia, attended the event to protest the tuition hikes as well as the new health charges.

“The worst is people who are sick have to pay more often,” she said, noting that when people are sick they miss work, so with the new tax they will be forced to pay more money while not actually earning much.

For the most part, police presence was visible but minimal around Phillips Square, as bike patrol officers circled the crowd but did not intervene, and police cars blocked traffic for a block around the area. The presence was heightened, however, as protesters marched east down Ste. Catherine St. shortly before 2 p.m., headed for the finance minister’s office in Old Montreal. Police in riot gear blocked the building, but a small group of protesters reportedly forced their way inside, damaging doors, overturning plants and spray painting graffiti inside the building. One man was arrested on scene for breaking and entering.

Despite the small group inside the building, the protest was a peaceful one. Mehreen was impressed and pleased with the size of the crowd that came out for the demonstration. “This is great, there’s good mobility,” she said. “We have to make them hear our outrage.”

Leave a Comment