Quebec students, unions, teachers march against government cuts
Thursday's rally the largest held this year
Thousands took to the streets Thursday afternoon in Montreal to protest the Quebec government's cost-cutting measures.
Unlike the 2012 protests in Quebec, which centred on a proposal to increase tuition fees, students this time around are focused on what they call the province's heavy-handed austerity measures.
- Quebec student protests: What you need to know
- Student launch 2 weeks of strikes with downtown march
- Quebec budget 2015: Liberals balance books with no tax hike
Organizers say 75,000 people attended. Though the crowd consisted mostly of students, organizers said there was also a union presence. Unions have been protesting cuts to government spending, particularly when it comes to changes to municipal pension plans, since last year.
Last week, the government tabled the province's first balanced budget in six years without raising taxes.
Jacques Létourneau, president of the CSN labour union, which represents 325,000 workers, called on members to join the protest.
Some teachers also took part.
The 1,200 professors at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) opted to strike for two days after they failed to reach a deal in their collective agreement.
UQAM went to court seeking an injunction against five student associations and their leaders after some students blocked access to the university on Monday.
On Wednesday, the court ruled in UQAM's favour, allowing students who don't want to strike to attend classes.
English schools join protest
At least one English CEGEP also took part in Thursday's march, after Vanier College voted in favour of a one-day strike. Two other colleges, Dawson and Champlain St-Lambert, voted against it.
McGill University's undergraduate law students also took part in Thursday's demonstration.
"As future lawyers, we have a responsibility to make sure that we're standing up for groups that are vulnerable that would be affected by austerity cuts," said Jacob Schweda, a McGill law student.
The protest began at 1 p.m. ET at Square Victoria in downtown Montreal and officially ended around 3:30 p.m.
No itinerary was provided, which is mandatory under a municipal bylaw. Because of that, police called the protest "illegal."
There was heavy police presence at the event, but no one was arrested. Two people were given tickets for breaking a bylaw.