- Canadian Grand Prix
Students plan Canadian GP race day protest
© Press Association
Following the breakdown of negotiations between student groups and the government of Quebec over hikes in university tuition fees, a plan is moving ahead to disrupt next week's Canadian Grand Prix.
A Facebook page has been set up to encourage students to take a trip on the Montreal subway system's yellow line, the only one with a station on Notre-Dame Island where the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located. Presenting itself as an experiment "to see how many people can get on the metro", the protest is scheduled for race day at 10:30, when tens of thousands of fans are in transit. Around 90% of the public takes the subway to reach the circuit.
Quebec students have been on strike for 16 weeks and for the last month, nightly marches have taken place on Montreal's main boulevards. Following this week's impasse in negotiations, the largest student association, which is considered somewhat radical, hinted that it intended to disrupt the Canadian GP.
"I expect them to behave in a responsible manner", declared Quebec's Prime Minister Jean Charest, who underlined that the race is important "for Montreal's economy, its jobs and its image." He added that student protesters "must take a deep look into themselves regarding the acts they are committing. The people of Quebec are asking them to be more peaceful."
The Canadian GP is not expected to be a sell out this year and several thousand tickets remain available a week ahead of the race as fans coming from abroad have decided to pass on this year's event.
"Of course, we wish that the Grand Prix du Canada weekend will be held in all respect to our spectators, coming from all around the world and from all social backgrounds, so that they can enjoy their three days at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve", said promoter Francois Dumontier in a statement. "We are glad to hear the student leaders mention in their comments that they also wish that spectators will be respected."
But he remains a realist. "We will not divulge any details, but we already have a rather elaborate plan as our event is an international event", Dumontier told Montreal newspaper La Presse. "So we increased security, reviewed certain points which might have been more vulnerable and, over the last several weeks, have been working closely with the police. We are ready for several contingencies. We want to protect the festive nature of the grand prix. This is a celebration and we want our clientele to enjoy their grand prix."