Quebec education minister resigns

Largest night-time demo in weeks

For the 21st consecutive night, roughly 2,000 students crowded the streets of Montreal on Monday to celebrate the resignation of education minister Line Beauchamp – as well as to maintain pressure on the Quebec government to scrap the impending tuition hikes.

Beauchamp announced her departure from politics at a press conference earlier that afternoon, where Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest said that the current president of the Treasury Council, Michelle Courchesne, would succeed her.

“I am not leaving because of the adversity and the complexity of the situation,” Beauchamp said in French at the press conference. “I am resigning because I believe that I am no longer part of the solution. I am leaving my position while having the best interests of Quebec at heart.”

Courchesne, who was sworn in later that day, had previously served as education minister from 2007 to 2010.  Along with Beauchamp and Alain Paquet, Courchesne played a key role in the 22 hour-long negotiation session with the four student association representatives last week. The deal reached was voted on by the members of the individual student associations last week, and was widely rejected.

In a statement in French released on Monday, Courchesne said that only a “minority” of students had chosen to boycott their classes and “disturb the social and economic life of Quebec.”

“Quebecers ought to know that 70% of students have already finished their session,” she added.

Courchesne will also succeed Beauchamp as the Deputy Premier of Quebec, becoming the province’s second in only eight months.

The demonstration

On Monday, protesters gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin at 8:30 p.m. before marching through the downtown area.

At around 10:30 p.m., a standstill between students and police occurred when demonstrators tried to gain access to the Jacques-Cartier bridge.

Dozens of riot police formed a line at the intersection of La Fontaine and Champlain street to block the marchers.

The protest was declared illegal about an hour later when projectiles were thrown at police on St. Denis. The announcement was made on Sherbrooke while most of the marchers were still at the intersection of St. Denis and Maisonneuve.

The crowd was charged by riot police several times and divided into groups. Demonstrators repeatedly told police that their actions were making it difficult for the crowd to disperse.

“Let us go!” demonstrators chanted in French at police.

Most of the protesters were pushed into two alleyways along St. Denis. When demonstrators regrouped several minutes later, they were again charged by riot police. The crowd finally dispersed on Maisonneuve.

Police said that two arrests were made.