Take off your (clown) pants: police to temporarily halt protest tactic
The clown pants have finally come off.
On Monday night the Police Brotherhood of Montreal stopped wearing their silly pants, a protest measure that’s been in place since July, 2014.
In a statement, the union said it has asked its members to wear the standard-issue uniform from Monday evening until 11:00 p.m. on Friday.
After that point, they will resume wearing the colourful camouflage pants unless they get a deal they like regarding their pension plan contributions.
Montreal police officers have been without a contract since 2014.
The major dispute is due to a provincial law which revamped how much public sector employees had to contribute to their pension plans -- a law the provincial government created because the majority of pension plans were underfunded.
Because police officers are not, by law, allowed to strike, Montreal's officers have been wearing the pants and baseball caps as a protest measure.
In the statement, the union said it was “extending its hand to our employer.”
On Tuesday Mayor Denis Coderre said he appreciated police returning to their standard uniforms.
"I'm happy and I respect that. I think it is the gesture to be made so I think the president of the union, of the brotherhood, I think it was good," said Coderre.
He added that as a protest, he did not think it was terribly effective in convincing the public.
"I always said there was a link with the respect of the authority and the uniform and people can say whatever they want but there is a reality there and many other police forces even from other countries when they were here seeing that, it was not at their advantage. They say it was freedom of expression, OK but I don't think it was working," said Coderre.
In April, Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux tabled legislation that would force police to wear the uniform and equipment provided by their employers.
On June 17, Montreal’s firefighters union, which has also been locked in a labour dispute over pensions, reached an agreement-in-principle with the Quebec government.