Student groups challenge Quebec protest law

Student leaders speak in front of a Montreal courthouse after filing two motions challenging Bill 78, 25 May 2012 Student leaders said they were afraid that basic rights were under attack

Related Stories

Quebec student groups have launched a legal challenge against the province's controversial protest law, saying it is unconstitutional.

Two motions were filed in Quebec Superior Court in Montreal on Friday, including a request for the law to be suspended until a ruling is made.

Students have been protesting against a rise in university fees since February.

Bill 78 was designed to curb demonstrations but they have escalated since its passage last week.

A meeting between the government of Quebec Premier Jean Charest and student groups is expected as early as next week.

Mass arrests

In a press conference on Friday, Leo Bureau-Blouin, leader of the student group FECQ, said he expected the law would make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada quickly.

"We are doing this because we are genuinely worried that basic important rights such as freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to hold peaceful demonstrations are being attacked," Mr Bureau-Blouin told reporters.

Arguments for the injunction against the law are to be heard on 30 May.

Environmental and union groups have joined the legal challenge.

On Wednesday night, nearly 700 people were arrested in Montreal and Quebec City under the new law.

Those arrests were part of an estimated 2,500 since the protests began.

The bill requires eight hours notification before public demonstrations, including the route, time and duration of the protest.

It also bans demonstrations within 50m (165ft) of university buildings. Student leaders blocking access to university buildings could be fined as much as $35,000 (£22,000), while student groups face penalties of up to $125,000.

Quebec currently has the lowest tuition rates in Canada, but the government's proposal would raise the fees by 80%, in increments of $254 per year (£160) for seven years.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More US & Canada stories



  • Cesc FabregasFair price?

    Have some football clubs overpaid for their new players?

  • Woman and hairdryerBlow back

    Would banning high-power appliances actually save energy?

  • Members of staff at James Stevenson Flags hold a Union Jack and Saltire flag UK minus Scotland

    Does the rest of the UK care if the Scots become independent?

  • Women doing ice bucket challengeChill factor

    How much has the Ice Bucket Challenge achieved?

  • Women in front of Windows XP posterUpgrade angst

    Readers share their experiences of replacing their operating system

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.