Protests Take Over Montreal Streets
Thousands of people marched in downtown Montreal on Wednesday night to send a message to Premier Jean Charest: the
pots-and-pans-banging public is coming after his Quebec Liberals.
As the province was plunged into a summer election, student activists invited people to gather for a so-called casserole protest
on the first night of the campaign.
Protesters who converged from several parts of the city not only banged pots and pans as they carried a red flag down St-Denis Street, they chanted loudly and set off fireworks.
One had a large sign blinking the number 100 to mark the 100th nightly protest, although the gatherings have been much smaller in recent weeks.
A large number of police kept a watchful eye on the peaceful march.
One protester was injured when he was hit by a car but his injuries were not life-threatening.
The pots and pans were a common sight in the spring as protest percussionists used them every night to contest the government's tuition hikes and controversial demonstration law, Bill 78.
``Let's show the Liberal party we have not forgotten their track record and that we WILL vote in the next elections,'' said a
Facebook invitation to the event.
Earlier Wednesday, Quebec student federations said they would work to get younger people to the polls in greater numbers.
Their target is the governing Liberals.
They said they would work to increase youth turnout, and knock off the governing party, in specific ridings, those held by
high-profile cabinet ministers and those the party narrowly won in the last election.
Targets include the riding held by Charest himself, along with those of cabinet ministers like Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier, Public Security Minister Robert Dutil and Finance Minister Raymond Bachand.
Student protesters are planning to visit nearly three dozen Liberal ridings, said Martine Desjardins, who heads the university
They will not tell anyone whom to vote for, only whom to vote against.
``We remain non-partisan though it doesn't mean we're apolitical,'' Desjardins said.
``We will not encourage young people, or citizens, to vote for the Liberals, because we judge them very harshly.''
The student federations have launched a website that will judge the different parties on a number of issues including tuition fees, ethics and the environment.
At a news conference, Charest said protesters have a right to go after him and that's what democracy is all about. He quipped that he had a strong ally campaigning for him in his Sherbrooke riding, motioning to his wife Michele Dionne.
He also suggested all the noise might backfire on the protesters, come the Sept. 4 election day.
``Now is the time for the silent majority to speak,'' Charest said in Quebec City on Wednesday.
``In the last few months we've heard a lot from a number of student leaders. We've heard from people in the street. We've heard from those who have been hitting away at pots and pans. Now is the time for the silent majority.''