A contingent of students moved through the streets of downtown Montreal on Friday, Aug. 31 to denounce the tuition increase and support striking students that clashed with university administration earlier in the week.
A group of approximately 100 protesters left Place Émilie-Gamelin around 9 p.m. Students weaved through lanes of vehicles slowing traffic on St-Denis St. to kick off a protest that lasted nearly three hours.
As the group headed west, the Montreal Police followed and directed traffic away from the protest. At around 10 p.m., demonstrators joined a crowd on University St. emerging from the Percival Molson Stadium following a Montreal Alouettes football game.
Eric Pagé, a McGill University undergraduate student who was at the game, said he feels the student protests have run their course.
“I think they have the right to protest but not to goad cops or damage public property,” said Pagé. “I don’t think they should be protesting with an election coming up. The more publicity the protests get, the more it annoys people,” added Pagé. “It affects the odds of voters casting their ballots in favor of the party who will hold their ground about tuition.”
The student movement has slowed down in recent weeks following the announcement of the provincial election coupled with several failed initiatives to continue student strikes in French CÉGEPs. The upcoming election on Sept. 4 will ultimately decide whether the tuition fee increase will stand and if the controversial Law 12 will be abolished.
“For me, the solution to the problem isn’t the elections,” said Anthony Kantara, a Vanier College student at Friday night’s protest. “We could have accomplished a lot more as a movement if we had continued with the strike.”
The protest fizzled out after midnight when protesters and police clashed outside of Concordia on the corner of De Maisonneuve Blvd. and Mackay St.
“No major incidents happened that night,” said Montreal Police spokesperson Anie Lemieux. “Three people were arrested. One individual was arrested for intimidation while two others were arrested for assault.”
Andréanne Proulx, a CÉGEP du Vieux-Montréal student, said she believes the results of the upcoming election will shape post-secondary institutions and guide the student movement.
“It really depends on which party will form the next government and the decisions it will make,” said Proulx. “But if nothing changes, the protests will continue.”