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Quebec inquiry into ‘Maple Spring’ kicks off Monday

MONTREAL – The Quebec commission set up to review how the 2012 student demonstrations were handled is set to begin on Monday.

Stéphane Bergeron, the provincial Minister of Public Security, announced in May that the “Commission spéciale d’examen des événements du printemps 2012” would be headed by a former Parti Quebecois minister, Serge Ménard.

Other members of the commission include former Quebec union president, Claudette Carbonneau and retired judge Bernard Grenier.

The inquiry will look into what has been dubbed Canada’s “Maple Spring.”

Officials hope that it will lead to a better understanding of what led to the demonstrations and help the government understand why the relatively peaceful protests turned violent.

Hundreds were arrested and dozens injured, some seriously, during the months of protests, many of which took place in the Montreal area,

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Even before it began, the commission was under fire from politicians, police unions and student groups, leading many to question the credibility of the inquiry.

The Quebec Liberal Party, who were the provincial government during the protests, said that it feared the commission would just be an opportunity to blame those involved.

The party’s Official Opposition critic for public security, Robert Poeti, noted that he has doubts about the neutrality of Claudette Carbonneau, saying that the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) was supportive of the student movement.

The Montreal Police Brotherhood said that it would not cooperate in the inquiry, claiming that the commission lacks transparency.

One of the main student coalitions that participated in the protests, the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) have also refused to appear before the commission, suggesting that the goal of the inquiry was to prevent future social protest movements.

The former president of the Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ), Martine Desjardins, was scheduled as the first witness.

Ménard is expected to share the draft recommendations of the commission by Dec. 20.

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Anarchopanda, a regular at the Quebec student protests, arrives at the Montreal courthouse Tuesday, June 5, 2012 to protest a Montreal bylaw on the wearing of masks during demonstrations. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
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Protesters opposing Quebec student tuition fee hikes demonstrate in Montreal, Wednesday, August 22, 2012. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
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The demonstration to mark a significant anniversary in Quebec’s protest movement ended quickly Friday evening as Montreal police arrested over 200 people on March 22, 2013. Marc-Alain Trudeau/Global News
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Protesters opposing Quebec student tuition fee increases demonstrate in Montreal, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
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Protesters opposing Quebec student tuition fee increases demonstrate in Montreal, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
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Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Montreal, Wednesday, August 22, 2012. Global News
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Protesters opposing Quebec student tuition fee hikes demonstrate in Montreal, Saturday, May 19, 2012. The Canadian Press
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The Canadian Press
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Protesters opposing Quebec student tuition fee hikes demonstrate in Montreal in 2012.
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Protesters opposing Quebec student tuition fee hikes demonstrate in Montreal during 2012.
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Protesters opposing Quebec student tuition fee hikes demonstrate in Montreal. Global News

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