Quebec student leaders agree to end boycott

Quebec's education minister said she has reached an "agreement in principle" to end the province's ongoing student strike.

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, Line Beauchamp said the student groups still have to present the deal to their members.

She said the agreement was reached with all four groups representing the province's CEGEP and university students.

Quebec's four student groups, leading the fight against proposed university tuition fee hikes, have been in closed-door negotations in Quebec City with Beauchamp and the head of the Treasury Board, Michelle Courchesne, since 4 p.m. Friday.

So far no details of the agreement have been announced.

The announcement follows the news that one 20-year-old student reportedly lost an eye and also suffered life-threatening head wounds during a demonstration in Victoriaville, Que., Friday night. He will need surgery. Another man is in hospital with non life-threatening head injuries.

Several hundred students attended the demonstration, that quickly turned violent, resulting in 106 arrests and sending three police officers and six demonstrators to hospital.

Student leaders left the meeting briefly Friday night to speak out against the violence in Victoriaville, about 150 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

The demonstrators had gathered outside the provincial Liberal Party's general council meeting to protest proposed tuition hikes.

Protesters hurled billiard balls, rocks and bricks at officers.

Police responded with tear gas, rubber pellets and sound grenades. One demonstrator was reportedly shot in the face with a rubber bullet.

Some of those attending the party's meeting in Victoriaville complained of scratchy eyes after some of the tear gas seeped into the convention hall, and the building's ventilation system had to be shut down.

At a news conference Saturday morning, provincial police spokesperson Jean Finet called the violence unacceptable. He said police are continuing to investigate and they believe four people may have incited the majority of the violence.

Several demonstrations are planned in Montreal for Saturday to denounce the proposed changes to tuitions, continuing a series of protests held over the past 11 weeks.

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