Quebec’s anti-protest law Bill 78 passed into law yesterday, and I understand that it has received Royal Assent. Notably, the law did not stop protests last night.
The law was designed to put an end to the ongoing #manifencours protests in Montreal and environs, but it also goes considerably farther – it applies to any protest in the province from now until July 1, 2013. The breadth of some of the restrictions are astoundingly troubling.
Here is a link to the text of the projet de loi in French; there are versions in English floating about but I can’t immediately find one in time for this update. It’s important to note that this document is the draft version of Bill 78; there were a number of amendments that changed aspects of the law – notably, the threshold upon which a grouping of people in public needs notice and consent from the police is set at 50, instead of 10. Ce document est une version preliminaire; la version adoptée a des changes des provisisons; notablemment le montant des personnes où on doit notifier les polices est 50, pas 10.
Update / Mise à jour: The amendments to the Bill 78 have been made available; bizarrely, they are handwritten. Honest to goodness, I can’t believe they passed the law with amendments like this.
Les amendements à la loi 78 sont faites à la main. Incroyable.
The part of the law that requires huge restrictions on protest unless criteria of notification and consent from police is vastly troubling, but so too is Section 29, which says that anyone who encourages, counsels, gives consent, or through other act helps someone else engage in protest is themselves guilty. This is where Twitter comes in; the Quebec government has said that counselling via Twitter would be monitored through this law. When asked if wearing a red square would count as encouragement, the Minister of Education refused to answer, saying that she trusted police. That is not an encouraging response.
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.
Kevin is a cooperator, an always-student, and passionate about the arts. As a principal of the Incipe Cooperative, Kevin works with colleagues in a workers' co-op offering services for advocacy and nonprofit organizations. He's passionate about education policy, having been through twenty some-odd years of schooling and still thinking it changes the world. He also thinks that art changes the world, and he works with Art for Impact to celebrate art's power for social change.
A Vancouver born and raised resident who is exiled from Toronto, he constantly loses umbrellas and probably rants too much.