Posted by Saraline , Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:35 PM
As I'm sure most of you know, Montreal now has a bylaw banning masks at protests. Mayor Gérald Tremblay asks, "When a cause is just, why is it necessary to hide behind a mask?" When asked about protestors who use masks to protect themselves from teargas, a lawyer representing the police said that teargas is only used at protests that have been declared illegal. There are, of course, reasons other than hiding your identity and protecting yourself from teargas to wear a mask and one of those reasons is being adorable.
My son Eliot breaking the law at yesterday's demonstration.
Okay, so teargas is only used at protests that have been declared illegal, but when is a protest declared illegal? According to Quebec's new loi 78, if there are 50 or more people and the police did not receive notice in writing with a map of the route eight hours in advance, the protest is illegal. Loi 78 does not comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and we cannot sit back silently while it is enforced. We cannot hide inside while terrasses full of innocent bar patrons are attacked by the police, elderly people are penalized for honking in support of protestors, and unarmed protestors are pepper sprayed in the face. This is not the kind of future that I want for that little panda up there, or for the other children in Quebec.
There are many legitimate reasons to oppose the tuition hikes in Quebec that existed even before loi 78 and the voice articulating these reasons should not be silenced. The need to stand up to this special law is urgent. It is not just the students who are impacted by the new restrictions; Jean Charest's government is punishing Quebec as a whole for the student demonstrations and Quebec is taking notice. Louis Masson, president of the Quebec Bar Association, called the bill "a breach to the fundamental, constitutional rights of the citizens." The union representing STM bus drivers has denounced loi 78, asking bus drivers to refrain from driving riot police to demonstrations and reminding them that they have had protests in the past which would now be considered illegal under the special law.
If we don't speak up, we are sending the government the message that we're okay with laws like this, so stand up and let them know that we're not; future generations are the ones who will suffer if we are silent. Defy loi 78, join the protests, and show the government that we will not be bullied into following ridiculous laws.