05/18/2012- Quebec student bill ‘worst law’ since War Measures Act: law professor
MONTREAL – There were warnings Friday from Quebec’s legal community that the government’s strict legislation aimed at ending the student crisis has gone too far.
One law professor even compared the controversial Bill 78 to the now-defunct War Measures Act. Other observers, meanwhile, supported the law as a way to bring calm after months of unrest.
The emergency legislation lays out stern regulations governing demonstrations and contains provisions for heavy fines for students and their federations.
Lucie Lemonde, a law professor at Universite du Quebec a Montreal, said Friday that she was stunned by how far the bill reaches.
“It’s the worst law that I’ve ever seen, except for the War Measures Act,” said Lemonde, referring to the notorious federal law imposed in Quebec during the 1970 FLQ crisis.
“We knew something was coming, but I didn’t think they would use it to change the rules of the game in terms of the rights to demonstrate.”
The legislation, set to expire after a year, is designed to deal with an immediate problem.
Tens of thousands of Quebec students have been on strike for more than three months to oppose the government’s plan to hike tuition fees. Some demonstrations have led to vandalism and violent exchanges with riot police, and some students have been blocked while attempting to return to class.
While Lemonde doesn’t support the tuition increases, she has found herself stuck in the middle of the occasionally aggressive dispute.
She was forced to cancel a class Wednesday when dozens of chanting, masked protesters stormed into her UQAM classroom. The school invasion, which made international headlines, left her shaken up.
Still, Lemonde said Bill 78 attacks an individual’s rights to freedom of expression, association and conscience.
Other experts also questioned the bill’s legality Friday.
Louis Masson, head of the provincial bar association, said in a statement that the bill violates constitutional rights. However, there were grumblings from some members of the bar that not all Quebec lawyers are quite that opposed to the law.
One Quebec lawyer said in an email to The Canadian Press that some members of the association were upset that Masson spoke on their behalf.
Also Pierre Marc Johnson, a former Parti Quebecois premier, criticized an earlier statement by the association recommending mediation between the government and students.
In a letter published Friday in Montreal newspaper La Presse, Johnson urged the government to have the courage to take a strong stand to protect the democratic rights of law-abiding citizens. Johnson, a lawyer, warned against “improvised approaches.”
Bill 78 quickly earned praise Friday from some pro-business institutions.
Michel Leblanc, president and chief executive of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, welcomed it as a way to protect downtown businesses. Many have complained that they are suffering because of the frequent demonstrations.
Leblanc noted that fewer people have been heading to stores and restaurants in the business district since the protests started.
“The objective was to pause the troubles,” he said of the bill in an interview.
“It was important to find a way to calm the city.”
Leblanc also hoped the legislation would enable students who want to complete their semester to do so.
The director of an association that represents 8,000 businesses in downtown Montreal was pleased with Bill 78, but wondered what took so long for the Charest government to act.
Andre Poulin of Destination Centre-Ville said business owners have been “taken hostage” by protesters for more than three months.
“It makes no sense to let something go for that long,” said Poulin. “The impact has been enormous.”
But even some people who disagree with the student strike think Bill 78′s measures are too repressive.
Celina Toia, a first-year UQAM law student, was physically shaken up by a protester when they rushed into her school Wednesday to disrupt the classes.
The invaders also hurled insults at her in an incident she described as “completely shocking.”
While Toia believes protesters have no right acting aggressively and blocking others from going to class, she thinks the government has come down too hard on their rights.
“It goes against the principles that I abide by, which is the supremacy of law,” said Toia, who doesn’t support the tuition increases, either.
“Because if I were to accept this piece of legislation, I’m also denying a democratic right to someone else.”
Under the Constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everyone has the right to free expression and peaceful assembly — within reasonable limits prescribed by law.
Some are arguing that Bill 78 doesn’t pass the test.
The law lays out strict regulations governing demonstrations, including having to give eight hours’ notice for details such as the itinerary, the duration and the time at which they are being held.
Simply offering encouragement for someone to protest at a school — either tacitly or otherwise — is subject to punishment.
Remarks from the education minister fuelled some of the confusion about the bill’s potential reach.
Michelle Courchesne, less than a week in her new position, raised more than a few eyebrows by mentioning that tweets from the social network website Twitter could also be considered as encouragement to protest.
When asked to clarify, she said she would leave it up the police’s discretion to deem what was within the limits of the law. It remains unknown whether “re-tweeting” a potentially illegal message could also land others in hot water.
Toia and Lemonde both predicted the law will heighten tensions and confuse people — students and teachers.
Lemonde said some faculty members are now wondering whether it’s still safe to wear red squares pinned to their clothes — a symbol of support for the anti-tuition-increase movement.
“I think people are scared,” she said.
“They say, ‘Just by wearing the red square, could I be charged?’ “
Key provisions of bill -78 as presented to the legislature:
Important to note:
- The provisions against ‘inciting protest’ would apply to tweets and posts online.
For background, via StudentActivism.net:
- All classes at campuses currently participating in the student strike will be immediately suspended, with the remainder of the spring semester delayed until August.
- It would become a crime for an individual or organization to “directly or indirectly contribute” to the blocking of a campus, with those terms left undefined in the bill. Organizations would be held responsible for the actions of their members in this regard, whether those members were acting with organizational sanction or not.
- Student associations and federations would be required to “employ appropriate means to induce” their members to comply with the law.
- Student associations and regional federations that violated the law would have their funding and use of campus facilities cut for one semester for each day of campus closure.
- Campuses whose student associations were shuttered under this provision would not be permitted to establish interim associations while the suspensions were in place.
- “Any form of gathering that could result” in an interference with the functioning of a college would be banned at all campuses, and for a 50-meter radius surrounding them.
- Organizers of any demonstration larger than ten people would be required to submit the time, location, duration, and other information to the police eight hours in advance. The police would have the authority to amend any of the proposed parameters.
- Organizers of such demonstrations would be held criminally liable if the demonstrators deviated from police-approved parameters, as would associations participating in such demonstrations, even if they were not the organizers.
- Students who violated the act could be fined as much as $5,000. Representatives of student groups that did so could face personal fines of as much as $35,000. Organizations violating the act could face fines of up to $125,000.All such fines would be doubled for subsequent offenses.
Legislation to crack down on student protests passed by National Assembly, called worst attack on civil rights since the War Measures Act
May 18, 2012- As many as 10,000 people attended a march against Quebec’s emergency law bill 78 in the tuition crisis. Critics say the new rules infringe on civil rights.
RAW 10,000 Montreal Students Defy Anti-Protest Law Bill 78
PROVOCATEURS IN MONTREAL PROTESTS? Media is now heavily reporting protests to be violent (lone acts of Molotov cocktails were thrown ) just after anti- protest unconstitutional bill 78 passes.. Upload any video of Montreal protests/footage here on OccupyCanada
Look out for Agent Provocateurs
FYI: Remain peaceful! Black bloc is not an organization, it is a tactic, and yes, the police have historically used it to shut down peaceful protests, Police have worn masks/disguised themselves to hide their identity, and once one act of vandalism/or unlawful act occurs it can now be legally termed an “unlawful assembly” now MASS ARRESTS will occur (such as Toronto G20), they can and will resort to force, kettling, tear gas, pepper spray and other violent means to disperse everyone at the otherwise peaceful assembly. That’s why its important to film events as they happen for video evidence of possible provocateur tactics to identify all illegal activities.
May 17, 2012 “Montreal protest deemed illegal after Molotov cocktails thrown. Police fire tear gas, noise bombs at thousands of demonstrators.”
May 17, 2012 “Police declared the protest illegal at 9:54 p.m. after incendiary devices were thrown from a small section of the crowd, near St-Laurent and René-Levesque Boulevards. A Canadian Press photographer reported seeing at least two Molotov cocktails thrown and there were other reports of multiple devices being tossed.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/05/18/montreal-protest-declare-illegal-after-molotov-cocktail.html
May 17, 2012 “Among the activists, were some 50 people wearing masks. Some protesters wore gas masks and others were dressed in black. Montreal’s law prohibiting the wearing of masks during a demonstration comes into force on Saturday.” http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/19/montreal-protest-turns-violent-after-molotov-cocktail-tossed
Quebec police admit going undercover wearing facemasks disguised as anarchists at montebello protests
CBC News: August 23, 2007- Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association report, “Breach of the Peace,” notes concerns that POLICE INFORMANTS may have supported the VANDALISM .http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2011/02/27/g20-report.html
Quebec’s Anti Protest Law tramples basic rights: legal expert
“This bill, if adopted, is a breach to the fundamental, constitutional rights of the citizens,” the bar association president, bâtonnier Louis Masson, said in a statement.
“The scale of its restraints on fundamental freedoms isn’t justified by the objectives aimed by the government.”
He was referring to the bill’s most controversial elements:
* Section 16, which says that police has to be informed eights hours ahead of the time, duration and route of any demonstration by 10 or more people or more. (Friday morning the government appeared ready to increase that number to 25.)
* Section 17, which says that organizers, or even a student association taking part in the march without being its organizer, must make sure that the event complies with the parameters handed to police.
“The government is making it harder for people to organize spontaneous demonstrations. It is a limit on freedom of speech,” Mr. Masson said.
Legal scholars also gave Bill 78 a bad review.
“Read it. Stunned. Can’t believe that a democratic government can adopt such a law,” tweeted law professor Louis-Philippe Lampron, a Laval University expert in human rights.
Another Laval law professor, Fannie Lafontaine, had concerns about sections of the legislation which aim to prevent protesters from barring other students from attending school.
* Section 13 and 14 say that no one can “directly or indirectly contribute” to delaying classes or denying access to them.
* Section 15 says student associations must employ “appropriate means” to induce their members to not directly or indirectly disrupt classes.
* Section 25 threatens fines of up to $125,000 to groups that contravene the bill.
Shared by Derek Soberal@OccupyCanada
Since early Saturday, the websites of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ), the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports (MELS) and one for the Student Financial Assistance (SFA), managed by the government are off
Misinformation skyrocketed in bad faith:
Special law. Canoë: 68% against, 32%. Respondents: 27,889citizens.
Press (Crop) For 66%, against 34%!
Note that the Press surveyed 800 people before the law was adopted and that all details are known.
This is called manipulation disingenuous of Power Corp.subsidiary. Disgusting.