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For more useful English-language sources on the conflict, see:
On Wednesday afternon, after a wild ride through the entertainment district, hundreds of demonstrators blocked the main entrance of Hydro-Québec’s headquarters in Montreal.
“This first demonstration announces the return to the strike!” chanted through a megaphone one of the protesters, perched at the foot of the statue of Edward VII on Phillips Square, where several hundred demonstrators had responded to the call for “national action disturbance”, launched by CLASSE.
It was rather with the journalists that the first disturbances occurred. An employee of Radio-Canada threatened to “squash” a demonstrator who was playing the whistle to try to silence the interviews offered by Jeanne Reynolds and Robert Camille, co-spokenpersons for CLASSE. Another altercation erupted when a Black Block member deemed a photographer, who refused to stop bombarding him with photoshots, a little too intrusive.
From the media crowd, one question constantly kept on coming up: do the demonstrations favour the re-election of Jean Charest, who presents himself as the defender of law and order? Inaction is the best way to help the Liberal Party, answered Reynolds and Robert. In an interview with Le Devoir, Ms. Reynolds offered more on this perspective: “If we always get asked the same question, it means that everyone knows that Jean Charest is using this conflict to his advantage. How could we be giving him ammunition if everyone sees through his little game? “
The demonstration, which was declared illegal prior to its departure given the lack of a known itinerary, was quickly described as unlawful assembly by the Montreal Police Services (SPVM) as pieces of asphalt were being thrown at police.
Demonstrators prevented attempts to disperse them as they rushed at full speed towards 75 René-Lévesque Boulevard, chanting their slogans with a passion that had been languishing until the 100th evening demonstration last week.
“Hydro-Québec symbolizes the tax hikes imposed by the government since 2012,” decried Jeanne Reynolds to the demonstrators gathered outside the front door of the building.
The occupation was indeed symbolic, since the demonstrators were too few to also block the rear door of the building, as they had fled before the arrival of the riot police, who quickly worked to clear access to the building around 1 pm.
The demonstration continued peacefully - except for a minor altercation between two students and construction workers concerned about their road cones - until protesters returned to the corner of Sainte Catherine and University. Insults were exchanged between demonstrators and passersby which gradually turned into civic debates about the issues of the student movement.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.