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Montreal wins freedom of expression crackdown sweepstakes!

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Pandas, better take off your mask. The SPVM may be deem your costumes unreasonable. Via Anarchopanda on Facebook.
Pandas, better take off your mask. The SPVM may be deem your costumes unreasonable. Via Anarchopanda on Facebook.

In the sweepstakes that pitted all three levels of government against each other to see who could pass the most draconian law first, the city of Montreal has come out on top.

Over the past week, it was announced that the Conservative party backs a law that would impose up to 10 years in jail for protesting with your face covered, the Quebec government introduced draconian legislation restricting the right to assembly and to protest, and the city of Montreal sped up the process to vote on two bylaws that are aimed at cracking down on protesters in Montreal.

The Montreal bylaws passed first, after councilors voted 33 for and 25 against. The first bylaw requires protest organizers to submit the details of any demonstration to the Montreal police beforehand, or else it will be immediately deemed an illegal assembly.

The second bylaw stipulates that no protesters are allowed to participate in demonstration with their face covered "without reasonable motives." Whether a protester has "reasonable motives" is left to police to decide on the spot. Found guilty of this infraction, and protesters will face up to $3,000 in fines (in the case of repeat offenders).

The new rules come into effect as of Saturday morning (once they are published in the newspapers).

Opposition politicians, including the vice-president of the public safety committee who originally backed the by-laws, have spoken out against the law. Other critics include the Quebec Bar Association and all but one person who spoke at a public consultation on Wednesday.

The exact wording of the by-laws:

2.1 Au préalable de sa tenue, le lieu exact et l'itinéraire, le cas échéant, d'une assemblée, d'un défilé ou autre attroupement doit être communiqué au directeur du Service de police ou à l'officier responsable.

3.2 Il est interdit à quiconque participe ou est présent à une assemblée, un défilé ou un attroupement sur le domaine public d'avoir le visage couvert sans motif raisonnable, notamment par un foulard, une cagoule ou un masque.

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