Court of Appeal upholds Charest’s emergency law
Effigies are hung in protest during a mass demonstration against the Quebec Liberal governments policies, including university fee hikes and Bill 78, in Montreal, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (Peter McCabe / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Monday, July 23, 2012 3:21PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 23, 2012 4:35PM EDT
MONTREAL—The Quebec Court of Appeal refused to suspend the application of Bill 78 Monday, thus confirming a lower-court ruling that the controversial emergency legislation must remain in place while its constitutionality is being challenged.
The law was passed by the Charest Liberals days before the National Assembly stood down for summer.
Student associations targeted by the bill had sought to have it revoked in Quebec Superior Court. The hearing will only take place this fall, but the lawyers representing the students failed to convince the lower-court to at least suspend its application in the meantime. only to have their demands turned down.
The Court of Appeal said that while Bill 78 could be challenged on the basis of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedom, it did not find that the lower-court erred in its refusal to suspend the law based on the student's claim that it would cause irreperable damages while the case makes its way to the Supreme Court.
The decision came a day after one of the biggest protests in recent months, where thousands marched through the streets of downtown Montreal in a show of defiance to the law and to denounce Premier Jean Charest. With a late-summer election expected to be called any day, the demonstration was meant to show the continued resolve of a student movement that had been flagging in recent weeks. After nearly five months of nightly protests, student leaders said that the lull had been expected during the dog days of summer.
On July 19, the Quebec Human Rights Commission came out with a report that was highly critical of the law, finding fault with the harsh penalties of up to $125,000 and the emergency law's impact on freedom of assembly. The 56-page analysis largely mirror an earlier report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that was equally critical of the legislation.