As police across the province hand out tickets in line with the Quebec curfew order, there has been a lot of talk about whether some fines have been fair.
MTL Blog reached out to Cara Zwibel, director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), to learn more about the curfew and the delicate and intricate situations in which the governments and courts find themselves when it comes to the new protocols.
According to its site, the CCLA "fights for the civil liberties, human rights, and democratic freedoms of all people across Canada."
Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.
Is the Quebec curfew constitutional?
The question of whether or not it's unconstitutional is ultimately a question for a court.
A curfew is for sure a violation of rights that are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But the Charter rights are subject to reasonable limits. There are questions of whether or not this is a reasonable limit. I think reasonable people can disagree about that, and ultimately that would be for the courts to decide.
The things that courts would be looking at would probably be: Is there evidence that this is something that is going to be necessary? Is there evidence that this is something that's going to be effective in achieving its purpose? Is the purpose important?
Assuming the purpose is to limit the spread of the virus, that would probably be an objective that courts would say is an important one, but then the question becomes, "does this measure achieves that purpose?"
Even Dr. Horacio Arruda has acknowledged there isn't clear evidence on the effectiveness of a curfew, so that would present a constitutional problem for courts.
Courts would also be pretty deferential to governments and acknowledge that governments are facing a very challenging situation and there is a particularly heavy strain on health resources. A court might say this is reasonable.
This issue isn't easy to assess in a vacuum. It would depend on the type of evidence that the province could bring forward for why they're doing this, what else they've tried and whether this is the least restrictive thing they could do.
Having said that, there are probably instances where a ticket has been applied, where a court would have a real constitutional concern, such as ticketing the homeless.
The really concerning thing about a curfew is that at a certain time of day, the police have the right to stop and question anyone who's out, and that is, unfortunately, going to lead to abuses and going to be disproportionately experienced by the same communities that are always the subject of more police attention and scrutiny.
How can you contest a ticket in Quebec?
We are inviting people to let us know at the CCLA. We have a form that we were using in the first wave when people were getting tickets for being in the park and things like that.
The CCLA wants to know what's happening on the ground and where we can best direct people in finding legal help.
The ticket usually should explain what your options are, how to pay or where to go if you want to contest it.
It's always a good idea to take some notes of your own recollection of events because I have a feeling that it may be a while before some of these things get to court.
There are cases where people are justified in contesting a ticket.
I watched the minister of public safety talk about the curfew and the fact that police are trained to use their discretion all the time and that people with legitimate reasons don't need to worry.
Unfortunately, there are already a number of cases where it seems like that's not how things are playing out.
A 911 call was placed at around 2:15 a.m. on December 10, alerting police officers to excessive noise coming from an apartment on rue Centre, near rue Charlevoix, said Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant.
Brabant told MTL Blog that when police officers arrived on the scene, they saw a group of people causing the disturbance in an apartment. Some of the individuals noticed the police officers outside through the window and started fleeing the scene, he said.
Officers were able to catch one individual who was attempting to flee. Upon searching him, police found a firearm on him, Brabant said.
The man was arrested and is expected to appear in court Friday afternoon in connection with possession of that firearm, said Brabant.
While police were searching the scene during the event, Brabant said police found a second firearm, which they seized, amounting to a total of two firearms seized over the course of the "operation, if you could call it that."
Brabant said the investigation is ongoing and police have been able to identify other people who were at the scene of the incident.
"So there's probably going to be other arrests or accusations later on," he said.
"At this point, we're still [doing] an investigation to see who was in that place and [to see] if we could identify and put accusations against other people that were inside that apartment."
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) has released new updates on its search for Jake Côté, the subject of a recent amber alert issued in Quebec and New Brunswick. The child's father, David Côté, 36, is suspected of abducting the 3-year-old boy.
"The discovery of the ATV used by David Côté and the ongoing investigation lead us to believe that the suspect could be looking for equipment to ensure his survival and facilitate his travels," the SQ said in a statement sent to MTL Blog on Thursday evening.
"The investigation shows that the individual has a thorough knowledge of the forest environment, that he has the ability to quickly organize himself for survival in the forest."
#AMBERAlert | We ask the population of the area to immediately notify the SQ by calling 911 if they notice any sign… https://t.co/8dnFCReH96
It's possible the suspect moved on foot to chalets or outbuildings, like garages, sheds or barns, "in order to ensure his survival and that of his child," said the SQ's statement.
The SQ asks the public to notify them by calling 911 if they see any traces of breaks and enters or signs of missing or "displaced objects," such as tools or food, that Côté could be using to stay alive.
They also ask the public to contact them if they see anyone matching the physical description of David or Jake Côté or their clothing.
Since the SQ believes the suspect could be armed and that he could "act impulsively," it does not want the public's help searching and asks people not to venture into an area where they may be at risk.
The SQ plans to continue its ground and air search for the child and his father overnight.
While there's a myriad of possible reasons as to why Trudeau is ahead in the province, his handling of the pandemic could be the biggest. Among the Quebecers polled, 46% believed that health care is the most pressing issue in the upcoming election and 53% said the current prime minister "has performed well on pandemic management."
Politics and the Fourth Wave: As concern over COVID rises, are the Liberals poised to benefit?… https://t.co/znhujEMXZU