Attacks continue in Que. student strike 0
MONTREAL - Despite student unions and the Quebec government each softening their position, acts of violence continue to increase in volatility in the 63-day-old conflict over tuition hikes.
All three student federations, representing roughly 170,000 students boycotting classes, have agreed to meet with the education minister. They had initially refused any meeting that didn't include discussion of the government's plan to increase tuition by $1,625, or 75%.
Education Minister Line Beauchamp said Sunday night she was willing to meet with students to discuss the creation of an independent, permanent committee on university governance. The planned tuition increase will go ahead as planned, however, she said.
The government is refusing to meet with the most radical of the three federations, the CLASSE, which represents the majority of boycotting students.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest said Monday that the government won't meet with the CLASSE until it "clearly denounces violence."
CLASSE spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois told reporters Monday that his organization "disassociates" itself from the violence, but he refused to outright condemn it. Nonetheless, he said the CLASSE deserves to be at the table when talks begin.
On Monday, four offices of Quebec cabinet ministers were targeted by vandals. Bottles were thrown through windows at the Montreal offices of the justice and labour ministers, as well as the office of the minister responsible for the elderly. The bottles contained liquid - not gasoline - but police said they appeared to be attempted Molotov cocktails. Red paint was smeared on the finance minister's door.
No one has taken responsibility for the vandalism Monday morning, however QMI Agency learned that at least one cabinet office had a red square painted on it - the symbol of the movement against tuition increases.
Two 19-year-old men were arrested early Monday morning for trying to break in to a downtown Montreal college, while another 19-year-old man was arrested nearby for mischief, police said.
The city's metro system was targeted twice Monday.
Masked people threw bags of rocks and bricks onto the metro tracks at five stations during morning rush hour. It delayed service for 30 minutes. And police said they evacuated a downtown metro station Monday afternoon after someone launched a "smoking device" inside. Police later said that the device was not harmful.