MONTREAL – The Quebec government withdrew its offer Thursday to resume talks with university student leaders following the arrests of 85 people during riotous protests by thousands in Montreal over planned tuition hikes.
Windows of local businesses, banks and cars -- as well as a police station -- were smashed after talks broke off Wednesday between the provincial government and student groups over the planned tuition increase of $325 a year. Some protesters fought with police. Three police officers were injured.
Several thousand students took to the streets after the government excluded the more militant of the student groups from the bargaining table, accusing CLASSE of promoting violence.
The government said talks would resume Friday, but the other major student groups said they will not return to the bargaining table without student federation CLASSE.
Education Minister Line Beauchamp said Thursday there would be no negotiations with members of CLASSE. The government believes the group has not done enough to condemn the violence that has plagued student protests over the past two months.
Quebec Public Security Minister Robert Dutil accused Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a spokesman for CLASSE, of fueling the fire by condoning violence.
"I think the CLASSE has a mode of operating that involves violence in the streets. We read it in their literature, and it's extremely unfortunate," Dutil said.
The student coalition has said repeatedly it had nothing to do with violence in the weeks-long protests.
Beauchamp is excluding any possibility of backtracking on plans to raise tuition by $325 a year over five years.