Montreal riot police have clashed with thousands of anti-tuition hikes students protesting close to the site of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix.
Riot police fired tear gas and stun grenade on Thursday in a bid to stop the protesters from approaching the auto race event, as the protesters sought to draw international attention to their thee-month movement against Quebec Province’s proposed tuition fee hikes and a controversial bill 78.
At least 40 people were arrested after the officers rounded up the protesters, Montreal police said.
Quebec Province’s Premier Jean Charest, whose popularity declined over his way of handling the crisis, earlier warned against any threat to the Grand Prix.
“The people responsible for security will be on duty and will do their work, but we are appealing to people who were thinking of disturbing the Grand Prix to abstain, out of respect for Quebecers,” he said last week.
Canada’s French-speaking province has been the scene of massive student protests since mid-February. The university students and student unions are furious about government's announced plans to raise tuition fees by 75-percent over five years.
Meanwhile, the emergency Bill 78 passed last month to restrict student demonstrations, has also added fuel to the fire. Under the bill for any demonstration of 50 or more people, police should be informed eight hours in advance and told of the route of the demonstration.
The students have been urging the provincial government to suspend the law immediately and freeze tuition hikes.