MONTREAL – Thousands of student protesters marched in downtown Montreal Saturday afternoon.
Some organizers interviewed by CTV Montreal explained the aims of the demonstration:
“We want to mobilize people on the issue of having accessible public services all over the province,” said Camille Godbout of the ASSE student group.
“We’re starting to see an approach where government doesn’t have our best interests at heart,” said Fanny Poirier of the Spring 2015 Protest Committee.
Police arrested one demonstrator for allegedly assaulting an officer. They handed out three tickets, two for violating a municipal bylaw banning the use of firecrackers and another for violating the P-6 ban on wearing masks at protests.
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The Montreal Gazette reported that organizers of the protest said this will be one of several demonstrations to be held over the next few months.
“Today, we’re proud to launch a raucous spring,” said Fannie Poirier, spokesperson for the Spring 2015 protest committee. “Austerity measures have been presented as the lesser of evils to confront a deficient economy. But what we’re seeing … is a massive impoverishment of the population, full-frontal attacks on working conditions and a loss of security for society’s most vulnerable people.”
The official spokesperson for student group ASSÉ, Camille Godbout, said more than 50,000 students will officially be on strike as of next Monday to protest against the provincial government’s austerity plan, which has drawn the ire of major unions, community groups and various other stakeholders since it was announced last year. Today marks the beginning of (a ramping up) of pressure tactics among student groups. We’re angry. — Camille Godbout, spokesperson for student group ASSÉ “(The strike) will culminate with 80,000 students on strike for a protest on April 2,” Godbout added. “Today marks the beginning of (a ramping up) of pressure tactics among student groups … we will continue to increase the pressure. We’re angry.”
Organizers said they did not provide a route to police, which technically made the event illegal under municipal bylaw P-6. Police, however, seemed content to allow the protest to move forward as long as nobody acted violently.
“Freedom of demonstration in Montreal has been attacked massively over the past couple of years,” Poirier said. “We’re putting a message out there to the police force that we’re trying to do something good for society, which also concerns them. … We don’t consider (providing an itinerary) to be obligatory.”