The protesters, carrying red banners and signs, marched through central Montreal on Tuesday, to commemorate the day and also voice their opposition to the Quebec provincial government’s new law that would make protests more difficult to organize and impose stiff fines on those who disobey, Reuters reported.
"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," student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said.
"The gesture made by tens of thousands is one of massive and collective civil disobedience," he said.
Since the law was passed on Friday, daily protests have often turned violent, resulting in some 300 arrests on Sunday alone.
“We deplore the fact that the [Premier Jean] Charest government has chosen repression rather than discussion,” said Leo Bureau-Blouin, the head of the Quebec College Student Federation, speaking as the marchers set off.
Under the new legislation, any individual, who prevents students from entering an educational institution or disrupts classes will be fined between CAD 1,000 and CAD 5,000.
The punishments will rise to between CAD 7,000 and CAD 35,000 for a student leader and to between CAD 25,000 and CAD 125,000 for student federations or unions.
The law also forces regulations to govern student protests, requiring protesters to inform the police of their demonstration plans, including an eight-hours notice for details, such as the itinerary, the duration, and the exact time of the action.
Quebec students have been holding almost daily demonstrations since February in an attempt to show their outrage at the proposed tuition fee rises.
Under the provisional agreement, university fees would increase by CAD 1,780 over seven years or about CAD 254 a year, bringing the total to CAD 4,000 per year. The plan is scheduled to be effective from 2012-13 until 2016-2017 academic years.