Courthouse clash: Judges refuse to sit while constables wear camouflage
Several judges refused to sit after about 80 special courthouse constables showed up to work wearing camouflage pants Thursday morning in Montreal.
The constables arrived Thursday sporting the same bright-coloured camouflage pants worn by Montreal police officers expressing grievance over their pension dispute.
However the courthouse constables are bringing attention to their salary grievances, as their annual wages top out at $52,000 while about 270 other Quebec constables in their administrative grouping can earn higher wages.
Five judges refused to sit while the constables wore the pants. The constables eventually returned wearing their official uniforms. Proceedings were only delayed for about 15 minutes.
However the constables who patrol the corridors remained clad in the non-regulation trousers.
The constables, who are seeking higher wages, are not part of the Montreal police force and work directly for the Public Security Minister.
On Wednesday judges in Gatineau ordered the constables to remove black armbands they had been wearing in protest.
The special constables do not have the right to strike and a union rep expressed surprise that the constables were ordered to change.
“I was not expecting this in Montreal. The last time we did this, the judges didn’t say anything about it. Now there are new judges in place and they decided to tell the constables to wear their uniform pants,” union representative Jacques D’Aoust told CTV Montreal Thursday morning.
The provincial minister in charge said that proper clothing should be worn. “Uniforms should be worn whether it be by constables or police officers,” Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee told a scrum of reporters Thursday. “It’s a question of what they represent. They enforce the law and should dress properly."