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Another protest against COVID-19 health measures to descend on Quebec City


As Quebec City residents brace for another weekend of protests against COVID-19 measures, a CAQ MNA and former police officer tried to offer assurances on Thursday that everything will run smoothly.

Ian Lafreniere said unlike the events in Ottawa where demonstrators have occupied the downtown core for nearly three weeks with limited police interference, he expects Quebec City’s gathering to be better controlled.

“This is completely different. In Quebec, we're used to protests. In Montreal, for example it's between 1,000 and 1,500 protests a year,” said Lafreniere, who served as a Montreal police officer, concluding that it’s Quebec’s experience over Ontario’s in this regard that will help them.

“I think they were caught by surprise a bit,” he said of Ontario police forces.

The protests are expected to begin at 5 p.m.on Friday and continue until sometime on Sunday.

The Quebec City police department reiterated that the right to protest would be respected, and there would even be a certain amount of tolerance for excessive noise violations.

But police said there would be no tolerance for violence, a statement that was made as questions were being raised about exactly who will take part in the protests.

“We saw what happened in Alberta, in Coutts, where weapons were seized, there's always a danger of that. Having extremist groups joining a protest,” Lafreniere said.

When the question was put to Premier Francois Legault, he did not respond and instead congratulated the Olympic women’s hockey team.

The Ottawa and Quebec protesters do have at least one thing in common.

Their demands are far-reaching and reflect anger over health restrictions - despite numerous relaxations announced recently by the provincial government.

The opposition parties said they understand all the frustration, but were also clear they don’t think this type of action is the best way to express it.

“It’s been two years we're in this pandemic. So, they will come to Québec City with their children, with their wives, with their co-workers just to say it's enough of everything,” PQ MNA Martin Ouellet said.

The leader of the Liberal Party, Dominique Anglade. also acknowledged people have been through a lot.

“People are frustrated, people are...some people are mad, some people are suffering,” Anglade said.

And that level of frustration spilled over into question period at the National Assembly, with Anglade saying Quebecers are fed up of hearing the same message from the government over and over.

Legault responded that there are very few measures still in place.

“It will be up to Quebecers in this year’s election to choose whether they agree with our decisions,” said Legault.

- With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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