Problems in Montreal?


Although in no way comparable to the situation in Bahrain, unrest in Montreal could cause problems for F1 fans over the forthcoming Canadian GP weekend.

At the weekend, twenty people were injured, including eleven police officers, as protestors clashed with police on what was the twenty-seventh consecutive night of unrest.

At the heart of the unrest is a strike by students following the Liberal provincial government's decision to raise tuition fees by seventy per cent over the next five years. However, this has now expanded into wider social issues and has the support of Quebec's major labour, environmental and political groups.

A Pitpass source tells us: "While nobody is getting killed or tortured, protesters have been marching (and borderline rioting) in downtown Montreal pretty much every night for the last month, and the last three months in general. They're complaining about increases to post-secondary tuition, the lowest in Canada by a wide margin. So nobody has any real sympathy for them, but more than a few young people are taking advantage of the situation to wreak havoc. Molotov cocktails were thrown in response to (probably unconstitutional) anti protest legislation. At one point smoke bombs were set off in Montreal's underground subway. Nobody was hurt, but the transit system was brought to a halt for hours.

"Over the weekend of the Grand Prix, almost all of the (roughly 100,000) fans in attendance each day come and go via the nearby subway station. It would take nothing at all to pull off the same stunt. The race weekend is only three weeks away and things are looking grimmer than ever."

As our source claims, in the light of the continued protests the authorities in Montreal have passed a law which makes it illegal to hold a rally of more than 50 people without consulting with the police, in terms of numbers, route and timing, at least eight hours beforehand. Shortly before midnight on Sunday however, around 5,000 people gathered in the heart of the city's Latin Quarter, some chanting, "Devrait pas nous facher" ("You shouldn't get us mad"). The police declared the protest illegal almost as soon as it had begun.

"Everybody was braced for Bahrain to go wrong," adds our source, "yet nobody seems to be giving the situation in Montreal the same consideration, and in my estimation the likelihood of some kind of disturbance over the GP weekend is pretty much certain."

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Published: 21/05/2012
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