Small groups of protesters clashed with police on the streets of Montreal amid festivities leading up to Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix.
Protesters tried all night to approach the large tent erected in downtown Montreal for the festivities.
Montreal police, backed by riot officers, fired pepper spray into the crowd in order to force the protesters to disperse.
Lines of police officers blocked all access to the stands of the Grand Prix, which many student protesters consider an "elitist event."
The protesters, dressed in black and red, demonstrated not only against the Grand Prix but also against a special law passed by the Quebec government restricting the right to protest.
Special Law 78 requires organizers to give police at least eight hours advance warning of times and locations of protest marches, with hefty fines imposed for failing to do so.
The measure was passed on May 18 in an effort to quell the demonstrations sparked by a plan to increase university tuition, but so far it has only served to galvanize opposition to the government.
Students have rejected a government offer to reduce the tuition hike by Can$35 ($34) per year, which would bring the total increase to Can$1,533 ($1,473) over seven years instead of Can$1,778 ($1,708).
A small group carried a large black banner: "We can no longer express ourselves? That's why we let pots and pans do the talking!"
Police arrested 12 people, according to a statement. Five of them will face criminal charges that the police did not specify.
Student leaders vowed to target the Grand Prix, the city's biggest annual tourist event, when talks in Quebec broke down last week after students rejected a government offer to reduce the planned tuition hike.
Since February, hundreds of protesters have been arrested and clashes have erupted sporadically as more than 165,000 students have refused to attend class and tens of thousands have taken part in nightly demonstrations.
Earlier Friday, ex-Formula One champ Jacques Villeneuve said he had received death threats after lashing out against the student protests.
The 1997 Formula One world champion, who was born in Quebec near Montreal, said he had received "a bundle of abusive, insulting and even some threatening emails," that included "death threats," according to La Presse newspaper.
"For people who laud the right of free expression," the daily quoted him as saying of student protesters he believed to be behind the messages, "I find it ridiculous that I wouldn't have the right to say what I think."
He went on to say that if the protesters make good on promises to block access to subway lines to the main Grand Prix event on Sunday, "it would be a blatant act of terrorism."