Well, boys ‘n’ girls, what ever will Premier Johnny do now? It seems he may be in check and mate. That dreadful and vague Bill 78, passed last Friday (I put in highlights here); that was supposed to bring ‘social peace to the streets of La Belle Province has done anything but. In fact, Montreal’s finest decided to abuse their powers ‘allowable’ according to this law.
For those using the cliche, but..but…the businesses! Well, Saturday evening on St-Denis St, known for Montreal’s night life certainly rebuts that. What happens when the police themselves, attack patrons on terrasses and patios for no justifiable reason other than the fact they can’t handle an ‘insult’ or take issue with a bar owner sporting the red square.
Section 30 of Bill 78 — Anyone who helps or induces a person to commit an offence under this Act is guilty of the same offence and is liable to the fine… — the restaurateur, Dominique Dion, might be interpreted as guilty of breaking the law, simply because he’d welcomed protesters into his place. Even if untrue, that makes the law dangerously imprecise and open to abuse.
Dion’s arrest appears to have gotten precious little media coverage. Oddly, I had to get this from Michael Den Tandt’s article from today–yep! He, who was advocating caning student protesters. Go figure! Don’t get too excited–Mr. Den Tandt goes on crying the blues about how all what is happening these days will hurt Stevie Spiteful and his Harpercon puppets. I did see video of Mr. Dion’s arrest from his surveillance camera. However, I originally heard he was arrested simply for helping his customers flee the riot squad from the back door of his establishment. Whatever. It makes no difference to me whether he was arrested for helping his customers out the back door or wearing the symbolic red square. My point is that a) Bill 78 allowed for this and B) Naturally, the SPVM goon squad went too far. That video is just below.
Of course, who could forget that nasty scene over at the St-Bock Bar near by? The one where Bar owner, Martin Guimond witnessed his patrons on his patio being pepper sprayed at close range?
“About one foot from the faces of my clients, police also threw this,” said bar owner Martin Guimond, holding up an empty muzzle blast.
“They created panic, they destroyed the terrace and people scrambled inside, throwing themselves over each other. Everyone left without paying.”
A waitress told him to call 911, then said, “But wait, it’s the police that are doing this,” Guimond recounted.
“That’s when you realize there’s a total breakdown of order.”
Martin Guimond said that he would be speaking with his lawyers to see what legal options he has, like suing the SPVM for damages to his establishment Saturday night. Video taken from RDI report, showing loop from Guimond’s surveillance camera below.
According to what I’ve heard and read, Mr. Guimond says that student protesters have been marching by his bar for sometime now without incident at his establishment. That is, until that fateful Saturday night post-Bill 78.
Peace? Order? I don’t think so.
You see, boys ‘n’ girls, at this point, it doesn’t matter if one is against or for the tuition hikes. These protests since last Friday afternoon ceased being about that. It is now about our civil rights being at risk. There are groups who will be taking this to court. However, in a shrewd move, Ol’ Premier Johnny-Boy put in a sunset clause–July, 2013. The bill would likely expire before any challenge would make it on a judge’s docket. That said, Constitutional lawyer, Julius Grey believes that several sections of Loi 78 will be struck down.
“There’s no doubt that this contavenes the Charter on all kinds of grounds,” Montreal constitutional lawyer Julius Grey said in an interview on Tuesday, referring to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He cited the freedom of expression and of association among the fundamental freedoms violated by sections of the law.
“You could set that law as an exam question in a university and say: ‘Discuss all the ways it could be contested’, and you could probably write for two hours on it,” Grey said.
As well, section nine of the law gives the education minister the power to unilaterally modify the law. Grey called that a delegation of power to legislate in the place of the government and “flagrantly unconstitutional.”
Section 10 orders university and college employees to show up for work on a given day and Section 12 explicitly prohibits a union from participating in a concerted action, both of which Grey called a violation of rights and cuts off their right to freely associate.
Grey also called sections 18 to 20, which call for cutting off funding and fees to student associations that are considered in violation of the law, an effective dissolution of the association.
The measures brings back memories of the period of Quebec’s long-serving premier Maurice Duplessis, a period known as la grande noirceur, or the great darkness, he charged.
“Duplessis tried dissolving unions that went on strike, and that was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada even before the charter (of rights existed),” Grey said.
In the famous 1953 case of the Alliance des professeurs catholiques de Montréal, the Supreme Court invalidated the decertification of the teachers’ union by the Quebec labour relations board after the union ordered its members to go on strike despite a provincial law that prohibited employees of schools to strike without prior warning. The labour relations board revoked the union’s certification without notice of a hearing. The Supreme Court ruled the labour relations board had acted without jurisdiction.
I’m sure ol’ Maurice is probably yucking it up in his grave.
In fact, the polls themselves became the subject of controversy this weekend when the CROP firm, conducting a poll for La Presse in the heat of the debate over Bill 78, concluded Quebecers favour the government’s hard line.
Saturday’s front page headline said 66 per cent of Quebecers agreed with the government’s bill, compared to 34 per cent who oppose.
On Tuesday, La Presse had to backtrack, acknowledging people polled may not have been fully aware of the content of the bill because not all the elements — including amendments — were public until late Friday.
La Presse said in a statement that it has commissioned a new poll.
Meanwhile, a second poll, this one by rival Leger Marketing for the QMI media group and conducted at a later date, swung the other way.
It concluded 78 per cent of Quebecers feel the government has gone too far. And 73 per cent said they do not believe the bill will bring back social peace.
In all honesty, I have no idea what the margin of error is in either poll. Regardless, like I said, I will take these pollsters with a grain of salt these days.
I do have an important question no one else seems to think of asking. That fire that was set on Rue St-Denis, with all the cops there, you’d think they’d have had it put out in no time. Why didn’t they put it out immediately? This is reminiscent of the Toronto G20 protests nearly 2 years ago, where a cop car was left to burn for over an hour and a half, despite all those cops present and equipped. The obvious answer would be to stoke populist anger: “See what those hooligans did?” Kinda thing. My guess is if either of those fires (Toronto G20 and over the past week-end, here in Downtown Montreal) were immediately put out, there would’ve been a far less dramatic effect.
Today, to mark the 100th day of protests, a huge march took place on Montreal streets today and are still going on as I write this post. Doncha just love the turn out?
This would be largest march in Canadian history–about 250,000 people!
Apparently, these marches going on now have been declared illegal by Montreal’s finest.
I also saw that many older people were sporting the red square today as I ran my errands after work.
Other events in other Quebec cities and towns and beyond were held today, also held today. Eventstook place as far as France. In Vancouver:
Oliver Harwood, 42, arrived early and handed out red fabric squares that he had cut out moments before.
Harwood said the protest, like the Occupy Movement, is really about the injustice and the growing sense in society that “things are not right.”
Boys ‘n’ girls, even if you’re for the tuition hikes and against the students, what if you have a cause important to you? Do you honestly want your voice silenced by the heavy handedness of the cop? Yes, since the Toronto G20, the Harpercons’ disdain for those who disagree with them and now Johnny’s antics, it would appear that a serious attempt at criminalizing dissent is underway.
Another note, I wonder if Line Beauchamp, the former education minister, resigned in part because of what was coming? I mean, sure Bill 78 was hastily written, but hell, it came out just a few days following her resignation. I wonder if it’s possible she didn’t want to have anything to do with that? If so, this may well be her only redeeming quality. If I were Line Beauchamp, I wouldn’t want to get near this one neither.
I encourage all of you to read Bill 78 before getting gung ho for it.
In other news, the Charbonneau Inquiry began today. But don’t excited just yet–for the next 3 weeks, it will all be technical and only of interest to policy wanks out there. The real juice will come in September, after the summer break. If Johnny thought that handling the student protests as he had in order to distract the masses from this inquiry, he sadly miscalculated.
I will leave this with an old classic from the Moody Blues. Not exactly a protest song–more like a song one would want to veg to. Still, it’s a great song. I dedicate to all of you, boys ‘n’ girls. The slides on this video are also relaxing, because every so often, we need serenity.