Opposition to challenge controversial protest bylaw P6
Published Tuesday, April 9, 2013 5:12PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2013 7:19PM EDT
Montreal's controversial bylaw on protests could soon be history as the opposition plans to table a motion to have it scrapped.
Municipal bylaw p-6 requires demonstrators to provide a route and prohibits the wearing of masks.
Brought in last May at the height of the student protests, police have only recently begun to enforce the bylaw, issuing $637 tickets to those who don’t follow the regulations set out by P6.
During a series of protests from February through to March, nearly 600 people were arrested under the bylaw.
The man behind the Anarchopanda suit – an unofficial mascot for the student movement – is a philosophy professor at the Maisonneuve College, and was issued two fines of $637 each.
One of the fines was for wearing the panda mask. It was confiscated from him.
The other fine was for being part of a protest where police weren't given the route in advance.
When protests resumed this March, police decided to take a new tack, kittling and ticketing protesters under the bylaw before demonstrations turned violent.
This came after a tumultuous “Maple Spring” in 2012 that saw police in riot gear face off against thousands upon thousands of student protesters in downtown Montreal, a small minority of which at times took part in vandalism and aggressive acts against police.
“With the way that this bylaw's being used, I think that things are a lot calmer in the city of Montreal,” said Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum.
Police also think P6 is a solid bylaw.
“It helps us control the protests,” said Montreal police spokesperson Stephane Lemieux “They can't march against traffic and risk getting hit by cars.”
Opponents, however, feel P6 goes too far, opening the door to mass arrests and often criminalizing people who may not have done anything wrong.
“We're seeing hundreds of Montrealers rounded up and given $637 tickets when they have done nothing to disturb the public order,” said Projet Montreal city councillor Alex Norris.
Human rights lawyer Julius Grey argues P6 violates Charter rights to protest.
Having to provide a route, he says, prevents spontaneous demonstrations.
Grey believes people have the right to protest anonymously by wearing masks.
“I don't see why I can't make myself up to look like a politician,” he said, “I'm lampooning and walk out that way”
The city argues wearing a mask prevents police from being able to identify those they consider to be troublemakers.
Though the mayor says he stands by the controversial bylaw, opposition party Projet Montreal said will table a motion to repeal P6 in the coming weeks.
THe constitutional challenge over bylaw P6 goes to court in October.