Montreal Crowds Mark 100 Days of Student Protest

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have filled the streets of Montreal to mark 100 days since protests began against a planned rise in student tuition fees.

Protesters pass under the Jacques Cartier Bridge during the nightly protest march against tuition fee hikes and the new legislation barring protests without advanced notice in Montreal on Monday, May 21, 2012.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have filled the streets of Montreal to mark 100 days since protests began against a planned rise in student tuition fees.

People chanted "Our streets!" and carried signs and red banners. There were no reports of arrests.

An emergency bill passed by Quebec's government on Friday was aimed at curbing the protests by requiring marches to follow pre-approved routes.

Rallies since then have turned violent, with 300 arrests on Sunday alone.

Protesters say the law, Bill 78, infringes their democratic right to express themselves. They have pledged to contest it in court.

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

'Massive, collective disobedience'

Most of Tuesday's protesters followed a route submitted to police in advance, in accordance with the emergency bill.

However, some protesters linked with Classe, a student group with a no-compromise reputation, chose to defy the law and break away from the crowds.

Protesters from Alberta join Quebec students opposing tuition fee hikes and new legislation to limit demonstrations in Montreal on Monday, May 21, 2012.

Classe also said it would continue to agitate through the summer, a time of year when Montreal hosts outdoor festivals and attracts large numbers of tourists.

"Thousands of people have come to demonstrate with us, not only against the rise in tuition rates but with the intention to signal their disapproval of the special law," Classe leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois told the Associated Press news agency.

"The gesture made by tens of thousands is one of massive and collective civil disobedience."

But Quebec's minister of public safety, Robert Dutil, countered that many cities - including Geneva, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto - have implemented comparable legislation.

"Other societies with rights and freedoms to protect have found it reasonable to impose certain constraints, first of all to protect protesters, and also to protect the public," Mr Dutil told reporters.

Protesters gesture at Montreal riot police as they guard the back entrance at the headquarters of the Quebec Provincial police during the nightly protest march against tuition fee hikes and new legislation controlling protests in Montreal on Monday, May 21, 2012.

The bill requires activists to provide the police with eight hours' notice of when and where protests are planned to take place, or face heavy fines.

Small protests took place in New York and Paris on Tuesday in solidarity with the movement in Montreal.

In Quebec, the provincial government has not backed away from the proposed increases of tuition fees, and Premier Jean Charest has been criticised by opposition parties for his handling of the protests.

Mr Charest must call an election before 2013.