Thousands rally against Quebec ban on peaceful public protest

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Thousands of protesters on foot, bicycle, skateboard or rollerblades, crossed Montreal late on Saturday to the deafening din of pots, fog horns and whistles in protest at new rules limiting their right to demonstrate.

Some carried Quebec flags, others red flags and placards denouncing the special law, hastily passed a week ago, intended to clamp down on a wave of student protests against rising tuition fees.

The emergency law requires protest organisers to give police at least eight hours advance warning of times and locations of demonstrations, with big fines for failure to do so.

Authorities had used the law to declare protests illegal, clearing the way for police to disperse protesters.

But about 10,000 people joined Saturday’s demonstration

The march was immediately declared illegal by police, who had not been informed of the itinerary.

But the demonstrators were able to proceed without incident and the only arrest made was that of an irate driver annoyed at being blocked by the protesters, police said.

Similar events were held in Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres and in several other cities in the francophone province.

So much for freedom of expression in the democratic West. Please don’t believe a response this reactionary is limited to Canada – or to a Conservative government.

When push comes to shove, when the people of a nation like Canada stand up and express their dissatisfaction with lousy laws and even worse economic policies – the first response from politicians and other cowards who fear loss of power is to crush peaceful protest, to enact laws justifying the repression.

It’s happened before. It will happen again. Police are nothing more than a willing and often enthusiastic tool. The real villains are our democratically-elected stooges.

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