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Quebec may force end to student strike

Government considers emergency legislation; 122 arrested overnight

Jean charest student strikeEnlarge
Quebec Prime minister Jean Charest said he might introduce emergency legislation today to end a four-month long student strike. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Police arrested more than 120 striking students in Montreal early this morning after peaceful demonstrations turned violent, CTV News reported.

Students – who have staged demonstrations almost daily for nearly four months – took to the streets after Premier Jean Charest announced he’s considering laws to stop the action.

“It’s time for calm to be restored,” Charest said Wednesday, according to CTV. “Access to education is a right. Nobody can pretend to defend access to education and then block the doors of a (college) or university.”

That’s when students started marching through the streets.

The tension escalated when a splinter group began throwing rocks, breaking windows and confronting police and business owners.

One business owner started yelling at the protesters, and police needed to separate them.

The emergency law – which Charest could table today – would postpone the current semester until August at 11 colleges and 14 universities affected by the strike, The Associated Press reported.

Quebec wants to increase tuition $254 per year over seven years, or about a 75 percent jump, in a province with the lowest tuition rates in Canada.

The French-speaking region prides itself on affordable, accessible education.

In all likelihood, if Quebec introduces the law, it will do little to stop students, their leaders said.

“If there is violence, if there are serious injuries, Premier Jean Charest will have to carry the blame for the rest of his political career,” student leader Leo Bureau-Blouin told the AP.

The demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, but often degrade into some violence.

On Wednesday, a group descended on University of Quebec at Montreal, flooded the hallways and disrupted classes.

The school and law students had gone to court to seek an injunction against the strike.

“There were at least a hundred of them and they wore masks,” a student told Sun Media. “They screamed at us to leave the class, but we stayed. It was scary. They were threatening and violent. There were altercations.”

More from GlobalPost: Striking students seek out, harass 'scabs'

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/canada/120517/quebec-may-force-end-student-strike