"Nothing to do with tuition": finance minister

Quebec ministers signal tougher stance on protests

There may be more scenes like yesterday’s clash at Collège Lionel-Groulx after Quebec’s cabinet ministers started using tougher language to address the 14-week student protest that has hurt the province’s economy and blocked many students from classes despite their legal right to attend.

At the Montreal-area CEGEP, police enforced an injunction on Tuesday that allows 53 students to return to school. They removed students, parents and teachers who were determined to prevent classes from being held until the government backs down on planned tuition increases. Tear gas was released and five people were arrested—only to have the classes cancelled again until Friday.

Jean Charest’s cabinet is meeting today to decide its next move, after students reneged on an agreement signed on May 5 by student leaders that would have seen them return to classes.

Ahead of those meetings, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand told The Globe and Mail that he believes “enough is enough. ” He said that disruptions to the economy—which have included a shut-down subway system, blocked bridges and riots in Montreal’s shopping district—“have nothing to do with tuition,” and are being committed “by groups of anti-capitalists and Marxists.”

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier warned about the many ignored injunctions: “What we are witnessing is the disrespect of the law, the disrespect of court rulings, the disrespect of the police and we are even witnessing the disrespect of the criminal code.”