Downtown businesses fed up with protesters
Downtown businesses have had their fill of being the targets of vandals during student protests.
And they're concerned about a possible revival of last year's Maple Spring.
Last night's protests, against the Marois government's plans to index university tuition fees to the rate of inflation, led to 72 people being rounded up by police.
The majority of them got $637 tickets for taking part in an illegal demonstration.
Others have criminal charges pending against them. They're now all free on a promise to appear in court later.
André Poulin, the head of Destination Centre-Ville, which represents 8000 offices and businesses in downtown Montreal, is calling on Montreal police to be quicker on the draw when demonstrations start turning ugly, as they did last night.
"I think it would be good if they stop the demonstrations before the violence or vandalism activities," Poulin says. "Up to now, they wait too long before they make arrests."
Poulin adds that many of the businesses the group represents suffered during last spring's almost daily protests, with the hotel and restaurant sectors taking the most serious hit. Some have had to close, and others have had to cut staff.
And he adds, the protests, and the prospect of more protests, continue to sully the reputation of downtown Montreal, both within the city and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Montreal police continue to repeat the line they used for much of last spring, that they have no problem with peaceful protests, but they do have a problem when the protesters start throwing and breaking things.
Photo: Michel Boyer