- Mayor Plante has announced that the city of Montreal will officially repeal the ban on wearing masks at protests.
- The city stopped enforcing the law in 2016 but will formalize this change in policy at the next city council meeting.
Mayor Valérie Plante and the City of Montreal announced today that a controversial 2012 bylaw will be repealed at the next city council session, according to a report from La Presse. Bylaw P-6, installed by the administration of former mayor Gérald Tremblay, stipulated that citizens are not allowed to wear masks or face coverings when protesting. The bylaw was put in place in response to the 2012 student protests, which saw mass arrests because students would break said protest laws.
Bylaw P-6 also stipulated that the "exact location and itinerary of an assembly, parade or gathering must be disclosed, prior to the event, to the director of the Service de police or to the officer in charge."
This regulation was perhaps the most disregarded of bylaw P-6.
Though, the SPVM hasn't enforced the bylaw since 2016 because it was successfully challenged in court. In a statement, Mayor Plante said that "in the vast majority of cases, demonstrations are peaceful."
She also said that the law is unnecessary, citing that law enforcement officers in Montreal are now equipped with better tools to maintain public order.
The law will officially be repealed at the next city council session. Public reactions already praise the mayor for finally taking action on this controversial law.
In 2018, Montreal held public consultations to discuss scrapping bylaw P-6. According to CBC News, the SPVM says that mass arrests should only be used as a "last resort."
Back in 1969, Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau installed a law that prohibited public gatherings that "endanger peace, security, and public order," which aimed to prevent citizens from hosting large gatherings against the Vietnam War, for example.
Courts found the law violated freedoms and ordered that the city suspend enforcing it immediately.
Though the SPVM and Mayor Plante assured Montrealers that the law hasn't been enforced since the court decision, it was necessary for the city to remove the law altogether.
According to the Montreal Gazette, more than 80% of tickets and charges against protesters who violated the bylaw have been dropped.
Once the bylaw is fully repealed, protestors will once again be able to wear masks or face coverings if they choose. The law will not be replaced with another.
Perhaps most importantly, protests will no longer need to disclose their route to the police.
Montreal's public safety commission says that there are plenty of other regulations that will guarantee public safety on city streets should a manifestation occur.
Montreal saw the largest protest in its history this summer. Some 500,000 people marched through the streets demanding climate action. The event was peaceful and went off without a hitch.
For years, Montrealers have criticized the oppressive bylaw and finally, the law will officially be repealed in the coming days. Protesters, rejoice!
If history is any indication, Montreal will continue to be a setting for massive protests against police brutality and climate change.
We're a passionate people and we're not afraid to speak out minds, after all.