MONTREAL (Reuters) - Police arrested 11 people on the Montreal campus of Canada’s largest French-language university on Tuesday as protesters opposed to the resumption of classes after last spring’s province-wide student boycott clashed with guards inside a classroom building.
Ten people were charged with assault and assault on a police officer after fighting broke out at the University of Montreal campus on Tuesday morning, Agent Danny Richer of the Montreal Police Service said. One protester was released without charge.
Protesters have attempted to disrupt classes at the University of Montreal and the University of Quebec at Montreal since classes resumed on Monday.
A student strike over tuition fee increases had interrupted the spring semester at many Quebec universities and colleges.
In response to the boycott, which spawned massive street protests throughout Quebec, the province’s Liberal government passed a bill forcing a reopening of university classes and imposing stiff fines on those who block access to classrooms.
The law requires advance notice of demonstrations involving more than 50 people. The legislation has been criticized by opposition politicians as a curb on civil rights.
The charges faced by those arrested on Tuesday are not related to the special bill, police said.
Student associations behind this week’s protests say their strike has not ended and that classes should not resume.
The university issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it had suspended classes in some departments until further notice because of the rising tensions.
A university spokesman, Mathieu Filion, said only a minority of students were still boycotting classes and that 90 percent of students were back in school. The school suspended classes only in those departments where students have vowed to continue the boycott, the spokesman said.
The student strike and Premier Jacques Charest’s response to it have emerged as an issue in an election called for September 4 in the mostly French speaking province.
A CROP survey for La Presse newspaper, released on Tuesday, puts the separatist Parti Quebecois in first place among voters with support of 33 percent of those surveyed. The newly created Coalition for the Future of Quebec was second with 28 percent, while the governing Liberals were trailing at 26 percent.
Reporting By Rita Devlin Marier; Editing by Frank McGurty