New pro-Palestinian encampment set up at Victoria Square in downtown Montreal

Protestors with the Divest for Palestine Collective set up the encampment Saturday afternoon. They're asking the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) to divest from certain companies with ties to Israel. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)

After surviving a first rainy night, protestors at a new pro-Palestinian encampment at Victoria Square in Montreal's downtown are calling on Quebec's pension fund manager to divest from certain companies with ties to Israel.

Protestors began barricading themselves using construction materials around 1:20 p.m. Saturday, according to Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) spokesperson Véronique Dubuc.

In a news release, protestors from the Divest for Palestine Collective say they're asking the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) to divest from 87 companies with ties to Israel in the wake of the latter's war against Hamas and occupation of Palestinian territories.

"Divestment is not only for the universities, it should be every institution," said Benoît Allard, a spokesperson for the collective.

The CDPQ manages the funds of 48 depositors representing over six million people in Quebec. The data cited by the collective is based on research by human rights organization Just Peace Advocates. It looked at the CDPQ's investment portfolio as per its 2023 annual report and analyzed it against databases compiled by international organizations, including the United Nations, of companies connected to various activities in occupied Palestinian territor.

Additionally, the collective is asking the CDPQ to put in place a transparent process that would prevent future investments "associated with human rights and international law violations," it says in the news release.

"Those demands aren't new. They have been handed by people in civil society in Quebec, there have been open letters to the CDPQ asking for divestment, there have been questions from [MNAs] in the Assemblée Nationale du Québec," he said. "We have [as] yet received only partial answers."

The collective is also asking the Minister of international relations and the Francophonie, Martine Biron, to shut down Quebec's office in Israel.

CBC News has reached out to the CDPQ for comment and is waiting to hear back.

Montreal Police say they're monitoring the situation and have a line of communication with the protestors.

The encampment builds off the student-led movement which has seen tents spring up across North American campuses, including McGill University in Montreal. There, an encampment has been in place for nearly two months, despite two injunction requests.

On Tuesday, the university said it was done negotiating with the students and is looking to take disciplinary action.

Another encampment at the Université du Québec à Montréal was dismantled in late May after that university agreed to most of the student's demands including creating a $100,000 fund for Palestinian academics and students, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and asking the UQAM Foundation to ensure it has no direct investment in weapons companies.