Members of the far-right groups La Meute and Storm Alliance assembled in Quebec City on Saturday to protest against the Quebec government’s consultations on systemic racism in the province.
The demonstration was organized despite the fact the consultations were cancelled in October. Instead, the government will be holding a forum next month, looking into the issue of unemployment among immigrants.
The protesters gathered in front of the National Assembly at 11 a.m., where they were met by counter protesters belonging to left-wing and anti-fascist groups who said they were demonstrating against racism and exclusion.
The rallies went with a heavy police presence.
Fences were installed in different sectors of the city in order to separate the groups and prevent clashes.
By 2:30 p.m., Quebec City police had arrested over 20 people, but at the end of the day, the number of arrests had climbed to 44.
In a tweet, police said people arrested had been heading to the protest with the intention of causing violence.
Disguises and weapons were seized, including slingshots with metal marbles, batons and plastic bottles containing an unidentified liquid.
However, a spokesperson with Quebec City police could not confirm whether those arrested identified with any of the protesting groups.
In August, similar dueling protests ended with counter protesters clashing with police, while members of La Meute were holed up in a parking garage in an effort by police to keep the opposing groups apart.
The two groups also faced off in September at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border, where a temporary village for asylum seekers was set up after a surge in border crossings.
Police in Quebec City said there have been no reports of injury or material damage.
— With files from The Canadian Press