Coalition Calls for Québec City to Abolish Anti-Protest Measures

Coalition Calls for Québec City to Abolish Anti-Protest Measures

Quebec City (Quebec) 20 June 2015 – Nearly 4,000 people signed a “Declaration for the right to demonstrate” that was filed in city hall in Québec City on Friday, three years to the day after the adoption of rules requiring protesters to provide their itinerary to the police.

Several representatives of organizations such as the League of Rights and Freedoms (Québec Chapter) and the People’s Saint-Jean-Baptitste Committee denounced the what they deem “anti-protest” measures and demanded their abolition.

They aim mainly Article 19.2 of the Rules of peace and good order – the equivalent of P-6 Regulations in Montréal – which allows police in Québec to declare the demonstration an illegal event if the route was not provided beforehand or if the route that is provided is not respected.

This regulation, they say, is abusive and imposes excessive and unnecessary constraints to the right to demonstrate. “For us it is a pretext to discourage mobilization,” said Sébastien Harvey of the League of Rights and Freedoms, during a press briefing at City Hall, insisting that in Québec in recent years, there were no protests that led to harm.

“We invented disproportionate means for non-existent problems. In the Criminal Code, it is already framed. If someone breaks a window, I have no problem with the police intervening to stop that person and prevent harm. However, we do not want it to be 200 or 300 people who suddenly become responsible for this act there.”

Gabriel Marcoux-Chabot, better known under the pseudonym “Banane Rebelle” was present at the rally outside City Hall that drew a handful of supporters. Last April, he accused Mayor Régis Labeaume of being the “real culprit” of violence against the protesters in an open letter, after Marcoux-Chabot was bitten by a police dog.

“I participated in plenty of events with the same regulations that exist and each time it was applied differently. The application is not consistent, nor systematic. The route issue is a false debate. We should not even be discussing this point,” he told the reporters, recalling the fundamental right to demonstrate.

“These regulations are then increasingly deconstructed in court, it does not hold up,” added Eloise Gaudreau, of the Saint-Sauveur Citizens’ Committee. “Declaring its path does not mean that the police will accept it, this is also why we see so there is interference by the police in the path we want to take. It opens the door to all this arbitrariness then and it’s not only because of security.”

Stuart Edwards, a citizen of Québec, illustrated the failures of the application of the Regulation with his own example. He is one of 274 people arrested on March 24 during a night demonstration against austerity even though he swears he was not involved.

Shortly after the order to disperse, the 61 year-old ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, surrounded by police who handed him a ticket of $220. “I am a local resident. I was walking in the street. The police do not distinguish,” he said.

“I was not doing anything at all. The only proof is that my presence in a certain section of the rue Saint-Amable at a time when there was a group of demonstrators. I have absolutely nothing to apologize for. I have pleaded not guilty. It is certain that I will never pay that, it is completely disproportionate.”

Following these mass arrests, the mayor had approved the action of the police, saying protesters who refused to give their itinerary intended to cause damages.

At the Québec City police, spokesperson François Moisan was very careful when asked to comment on the case of Mr. Edwards, saying “I cannot comment further on this case since the file was submitted to the Municipal Court. This will be the judge to determine whether his claims are based.”

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