‘Maple Spring’ Protests: Cuts, Crackdown on Student Rallies Roil Quebec - World News
Demonstrators are filling Quebec’s streets daily to support a four-month-old student strike against a tuition hike that has morphed into a movement against efforts to curb the right to protest and to impose austerity measures in Canada’s largest province.
The walkout over a 75 percent increase in university and college tuition fees began on Feb. 13 with about 11,000 students. By late March, more than 300,000 people — or about three-quarters of Quebec’s student population — were participating, organizers say.
The number of striking students had dipped to around 160,000 when the province’s center-left government passed an emergency law on May 18 limiting where and when protests could be held and imposing potential fines of more than $100,000 on violators.
But instead of quelling the demonstrations, “Law 78” drove people who were unaffected by the tuition hike but angry over the legislation onto the streets, revitalized the strikers and sparked court challenges amid claims it endangers freedoms of expression and association.