Canada
36 people arrested at protest in downtown Montreal

Credits: JOEL LEMAY/QMI AGENCY

GIUSEPPE VALIANTE | QMI AGENCY

MONTREAL -- Different government, same protests.

Police said they arrested 36 people at a morning protest on Saturday outside the city's downtown convention centre. There were no reports of serious injuries.

Protesters outside the centre shouted "Charest, Marois, same fight!" citing their displeasure with both the Charest Liberals and the Parti Quebecois government of Pauline Marois, with regards to the province's northern development plans.

Montreal's Board of Trade hosted a two-day trade show on resource development in the province's northern territories at the convention centre. The show, which ended Saturday, hosted big names in the resource-extraction industry including Rio Tinto Alcan, Enbridge and SNC-Lavalin.

A few hundred people gathered outside the centre starting around 9:30 a.m. Shorty after, police declared the protest illegal. Police said protesters started committing acts of vandalism and didn't provide police with a route prior to the gathering, as per municipal law.

Police spokeswoman Anie Lemieux said that of the 36 arrested, nine were minors. Lemieux said police arrested four people for criminal acts, including assault on a police officer. The rest were arrested for illegal assembly, she said.

A small number of protesters committed acts of violence: Protesters smashed a couple of the convention centre's front windows and some people threw snow and ice at officers.

Benoit Thisselmagan, an Innu from Quebec's Lac-Saint-Jean region, which is north of Quebec City, came to Montreal to protest the trade show because he said his people haven't been properly consulted on northern territory exploitation.

"The government is taking money off our backs," he said. We should see some benefits."
Emmanuel Denizon, from Montreal, said he came to the protest in support of the country's aboriginal people, but also for another reason.

"You want to know why I'm here?" he asked. "I'm here because the government (is not taxing mining companies enough) and yet they demand we accept their austerity budgets."

Montreal's downtown convention centre has often been the scene of protests since the start of the student movement in 2012. Last April, police arrested around 100 people outside the centre, also during a convention regarding the province's northern development plan.

Then-premier Jean Charest was speaking inside while protesters and police clashed for hours.

Last April's protest was a turning point in the student movement against tuition fee increases. For weeks after the April clashes outside the centre, protests involving the student movement grew larger and more aggressive.

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