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On March 22nd, over 250,000 people marches in the streets of Montreal, making it possibly the largest demonstration in the province's history (similar numbers marched in February 2003 against the looming war in Iraq).
People came from across the province to denounce the five year, 75 per cent increase in tuition fees implemented by the provincial Liberals. Premier Jean Charest has said that the increase is meant to ensure that students pay their fair share, and has repeatedly stated that the government's decision is final.
The tens of thousands in the crowd, and who continue to support the strike, are hoping to call his bluff. The strike has been ongoing since early February, and shows no signs of stopping: in the days following this march, actions across the province have multiplied.
One of the reasons why? The broad range of support students have gathered. Those in the streets of Montreal were not simply students, but unions, community organizations, teachers, grandparents, parents, high school students...
While Charest and Education Minister Line Beauchamp claim students are isolated in their demands and are up against a silent majority, those in the crowd - and many of those standing on the sidewalks as the procession stretched by them - clearly felt otherwise.
The Montreal Media Co-op spoke with with students, teachers, artists, grandparents and others to get a sense of why they were out in the streets on March 22.