About 1,000 protesters filled the streets near the Hotel le Victorin and conference center in Victoriaville as members of the Quebec Liberal Party held meetings and negotiations Friday.
Student leaders and members of the party met to discuss a proposed tuition hike at the root of a 12-week student strike in the province, Postmedia News reported Saturday.
Things turned violent when protesters toppled a fence barrier surrounding the conference center and a group of masked men began throwing projectiles at police and the building. Police in riot gear responded with canisters of chemical irritants, Postmedia News reported.
"It's outrageous," Quebec Transport Minister Pierre Moreau said from inside the convention center. "Democratic people don't like that kind of violence."
Martine Desjardins of the Quebec Federation of University Students -- a student union created as the result of a tuition hike in 1989 -- said she was prepared to compromise ahead of the meeting.
"We need to stop polarizing the debate around tuition fees and whether we are for or against it," she said. "We need to look at university financing, that's the key for a consensus and we're going to push for that at the (negotiating) table," she added.