Montreal tuition protest leads to nearly 80 arrests

Montreal police have detained almost 80 students following Wednesday's demonstration against tuition hikes.

Police move in after declaring demonstration illegal

Montreal police arrest 70 demonstrators during a protest downtown Wednesday. 1:49

Almost 80 student protesters were arrested after a group of demonstrators stormed Montreal's upscale Queen Elizabeth Hotel and a downtown shopping mall Wednesday.

The students started their march at Victoria Square and proceeded to the hotel.

Police said they were called to the hotel after demonstrators started flipping tables and smashing dishes inside the building where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their famous bed-in for peace.

Police dispersed the crowd at the hotel, but said some demonstrators headed for the nearby Eaton Centre shopping mall.

Officers pursued the protesters through the mall where display cases were knocked over and items broken.

The group headed to the metro and then came out at the St-Laurent station where more than 70 people were cornered by tactical officers.

Just before 10 a.m., Const. Daniel Fortier said police were waiting for buses to transport those arrested to the operations centre where they’ll be identified and a decision will be made about charges or fines.

Student protests have become a near-daily occurrence in Montreal since the anti-tuition hike movement ratcheted up public efforts in March.

The hike in tuition would see Quebec students paying around $1,600 a year more once all the increases are implemented.

Students say the hikes will limit access to the province's universities.

On Wednesday, Education Minister Line Beauchamp said the point of no return for the academic year is approaching. She invited students to the table to talk about more generous loans and scholarship programs.

The government, which so far has refused to budge despite the mounting public disruptions by demonstrators, says the increases are necessary and Quebec students will still be paying among the lowest tuition rates in the country.

The arrests came hours before the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQÀM) was granted an injunction forbidding students from blocking entrances and interfering with university activities.

Quebec Superior Court granted the injunction, which also forbids threats or intimidating gestures against anyone trying to enter buildings on the campus.

The injunction is in force until April 19.

On Tuesday, a student in Quebec City was granted a temporary injunction to stop protesters from blocking his class.

With files from The Canadian Press