Canada
Hundreds arrested at Montreal protest as bylaw comes under attack

Credits: JOEL LEMAY/AGENCE QMI

GIUSEPPE VALIANTE | QMI AGENCY

MONTREAL - The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has written the mayor of Montreal and the city's police chief denouncing a controversial bylaw about protests it says "could not withstand constitutional scrutiny."

Montreal city council passed a bylaw last May - known as P-6 - during the height of student protests, which made it illegal to demonstrate in the city without first providing police a protest route itinerary.

The city's police force didn't enforce the law at first but almost a year later, officers are using the law to end protests before they start.

Police arrested virtually all 300 protesters gathered in Montreal Friday night to denounce P-6. Police declared the demonstration illegal because protesters didn't provide a route to police and officers ticketed those arrested over $600 each, for illegal assembly.

The CCLA's letters state that P-6 has "no place in a free and democratic society" because it takes away citizens' right to spontaneously protest.

Julius Grey, a Montreal-based constitutional lawyer, agrees.

"There can be no such thing as a spontaneous demonstration," he said, with this law.

Grey said the law is only constitutional under certain circumstances such as extreme tension or the potential for extreme violence in the streets of Montreal - criteria that don't currently exist, he said.

Mayor Michael Applebaum's spokesman, Jonathan Abecassis, told QMI Agency Saturday the city stands behind its police force and P-6.

"Asking protesters to disclose their itinerary is not exactly an attack on the right to protest."

Abecassis said he isn't aware of a court challenge to P-6.

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