New bill would outlaw camo pants for police
Published Thursday, April 27, 2017 11:14AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 27, 2017 7:10PM EDT
The end of the line is near for police forces in Quebec who wear camouflage pants, jeans or even leggings as part of their pressure tactics during contract disputes.
Quebec's Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux introduced a new legislation Thursday morning that will forbid officers from wearing the colourful pants that have become part of the city's image.
“Yes, I have been patient, but I always said at the same time that my patience had an expiry date. And this expiry date has come today,” he said.
Bill 133 is aimed at amending the Police Act by introducing an obligation for police officers and special constables to wear the uniform and equipment provided by their employers.
The bill, once adopted, will impose fines of up to $3000 per day for those who disobey.
"For some time, I hoped I could convince, rationally, policemen and women in this province that this was not an appropriate means of protesting," said Coiteux. "I realized I have been just partly successful because some police services have decided to wear the uniform again. But we still have this problem throughout the province."
The measure will also apply to special constables who provide security at courthouses and government offices; they are also in the middle of a contract dispute.
Off-uniform pants were first adopted by Montreal police officers during contract negotiations in 2008, nine years ago, but since July 2014, it has become the de-facto uniform as a form of protest against their pension plan reform.
Coiteux said the issue of uniforms was one of public security as well as public confidence in the police.
"You don't want any confusion of who is a policeman and who is not, especially in an emergency situation," he said. "The second aspect, which is very important, is the confidence between the people and police forces. Police forces are invested with very special powers. They are responsible for law and order. With these powers come certain obligations and wearing the uniform which symbolizes this authority is something which should not be altered. It's something which has been disrespected for too long."
Montreal police Chief Philippe Pichet said he welcomes the announcement officers will return to their full uniforms.
“It's part of our sense of pride, which is very important for me,” he said. “Since the first day, I told everybody, ‘You have to wear the uniform.'”
Pichet said he couldn't enforce the uniform rule because the Quebec labour board ruled it was an acceptable pressure tactic.
The police brotherhood said it will immediately challenge the new law in court.
Tensions could mount in the coming months: the brotherhood is preparing to negotiate its next contract for its members.
With files from The Canadian Press