Montreal·Photos

Quebec students bare it all for transparency

A few hundred demonstrators took to the streets of Montreal wearing nothing but some underwear Thursday in the latest protest against fee hikes.

Police warned full nudity wouldn't be tolerated

Scores of Quebec students were baring it all – or close to it – for the cause of cheap tuition.

A few hundred took to the streets of Montreal wearing nothing but some underwear Thursday in the latest protest against fee hikes.

One Facebook group cited several reasons for the unique protest.

They included catching the government's attention; the mayor not wanting protesters to wear masks; distracting police officers; and also because it's spring, they said.

While a small contingent came fully clothed, most of the crowd showed up nearly in their birthday best.

There were private parts painted. There were taped nipples. There were slogans scrawled on torsos amid the partial nudity. And, yes, there was a little shivering.

With a low of 14C, it wasn't exactly balmy spring weather in Montreal.

Protest organizers asked students to arrive at a downtown park fully clothed but carrying backpacks. From there, they planned to disrobe and march across the Plateau neighbourhood.

They encouraged students to carry signs and wear body paint, but insisted that full-frontal nudity would "NOT be tolerated." 

'It is forbidden to walk naked in the streets of Montreal, given Article 174 of the Criminal Code.'—Montreal police tweet

A police scanner was overheard crackling: "There's nobody naked, so we're alright."

Public nakedness is illegal – something the Montreal police force felt compelled to warn people on its Twitter feed.

"It is forbidden to walk naked in the streets of Montreal, given Article 174 of the Criminal Code," the police tweet said.

Meanwhile, the student protesters didn't just lose clothes Thursday. They also lost a few supporters.

Students at CEGEP de Sherbrooke voted narrowly to end their nine-week strike. There are still 150,000 striking students -- which still represents nearly one-third of Quebec post-secondary students but is significantly less than at the height of the classroom walkouts.

That said, the protest leaders are sticking to their belief that the Charest government must scrap fee hikes. The government has shown no inclination of doing so.

There are now fears that the current semester might have to be cancelled.

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