It’s a gross violation of the right to free speech and freedom of assembly. It’s the local symbol of state repression and unchecked power. It also, apparently, leads to some really sloppy police work.

The conversation surrounding Montreal Municipal Bylaw P-6 has largely focused on the violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms inherent in it and big picture issues of police powers. However, it now looks like it may be defeated on a technicality and police laziness.

A Bit of Background

In 2012, when the Maple Spring was in full bloom, Montreal City Council decided to provide some legal cover for Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s controversial and unenforceable Bill 78. They added clause 2.1 to P-6, making any demonstration that does not provide a route to police in advance for approval illegal.

It took a bit of time, but once student protests resumed, following new premier Pauline Marois’ decision to raise tuition in her own way, the SPVM (Montreal Police) started applying P-6 routinely, at the start of demonstrations, mass-kettling hundreds of people and issuing them $638 tickets. This made demonstrating difficult, and drawing solidarity marchers from the general public, as was the case during the Maple Spring, next to impossible.

Even if you support a cause, the risk of being forced to stand in the cold in one spot for four, five, six hours and then paying for the “privilege” may be the deal breaker, especially if you have kids at home or work the next day. Not letting the new round of protests turning into a mass revolt seems to have been the goal and it seems to have worked, at least until last week.

The Richmond Decision

On March 22, 2013, there was a mass kettling and fining done under P-6. As with other cases, the defendants decided to fight the ticket. However, this time, with no lawyers, they chose to argue that the tickets themselves were invalid and the judge agreed.

Municipal Court Judge Randall Richmond determined that 2.1 did not constitute an offense, but even if it did, the defendants would have to have been organizing the demonstration and there was no way of proving they were.

Richmond also repudiated the procedure police used to issue tickets to demonstrators. Once the protestors were moved from the kettle to busses, SPVM officers issued the tickets to all of the people on the busses en masse. The problem is that the officers signing the tickets had not personally witnessed the accused committing any infraction.

Imagine getting a speeding ticket that’s signed by someone at police headquarters who you never met. Now, imagine that you try and fight it and the person who signed the ticket isn’t even a witness. How can you possibly be expected to pay that ticket?

You can’t. And that’s why Judge Richmond decided to throw out 16 tickets in total, including some for people scheduled for other days.

spvm riot cops
And which one of these guys has the ticket pad? photo Chris Zacchia

 What Now?

So, while this is clearly a victory against P-6, it isn’t a total one. The bylaw is still on the books and can be amended by City Council. Hopefully that will seem like an undesirable waste of time, at least long enough for it to be overturned completely on constitutional grounds. Also, it could be appealed.

In the meantime, Judge Richmond’s decision means that anyone police can’t prove to be an organizer can argue that simply being at a demo doesn’t constitute an infraction. Seeing as it’s almost impossible to prove, in some demos, who the organizers are, the SPVM can’t really hold anyone accountable.

Big win for non-hierarchical anarchist organizing. I guess just make sure a non-hierarchical organization creates the Facebook event and not an individual, or if it is an individual, make sure it’s a fake profile with a funny name, or better yet a real name taken from the other side. I, for one, would love to see the SPVM try to fine Ian Lafreniere, Denis Coderre or Heywood Jablome.

It also means that one officer mass-ticketing hundreds doesn’t fly anymore. If the SPVM wants to keep kettling people, they’re going to need a lot more people on hand to witness infractions.

Why Didn’t I Think of That?

This is the kind of decision that hearkens back to Al Capone going down for tax evasions because, of course, organized criminals don’t pay tax. How could anyone caught in a kettle be fined? We all know that police block off any escape route. What if someone happened to be walking down a side street – let’s say a tourist. They turn onto the main artery and get caught. How can the SPVM justify fining them $638?

What about mass ticket signings? How can that be legal at all? When a police force doesn’t apply the same bureaucratic rigour to a gross violation of civil liberties that they do to a parking ticket, you know there’s grounds to fight it.

It seems so simple after the fact. Why didn’t I think of that? Why didn’t anyone think of that? Well, fortunately some did. Rich James in particular is responsible for suggesting this course of action, and he started doing so in April 2014. However, it was really the defendants Patrick Rene, Eric Thibault-Jolin (or Thibeault-Jolin, according to the court documents) and someone named AK (who had an unsigned ticket and was a minor) who really embraced the concept, fought for it and won.

Cases that came before the court on February 13th were thrown out, too, because the prosecutor had no new evidence. Over 200 more tickets are expected to be thrown out on February 25. Unless the prosecutor comes up with more decisive arguments, the people appearing before the judge on March 23rd and 24th, challenging article 2 itself, can expect the same result.

Now, with the annual Anti-Police Brutality March scheduled for March 15 (as it always is) and the promise of many anti-austerity actions to come, this is going to be an interesting spring and summer.

* Top image by Jonathan Cyr via Twitter

Honestly, I’m torn.

I believe in solidarity with workers and I applaud protests that go where they’re not supposed to. I’m also not a huge fan of Coderre.

You’d think the sight of a group of protesting firefighters holding a banner bashing the mayor and causing a bit of chaos right in the council chamber of Montreal City Hall would bring me all kinds of joy. Well, it doesn’t.

You’d also think all the right-wing angryphone “Coderre, he’s our man” type comments left on the CJAD Facebook page and other places online would remind me, as they generally do, that I’m on the other side of the fence. Not in this case.

While I support the firefighters, the transit employees and other municipal workers in their fight against the Quebec Government’s Bill 3, there’s another group in their fight that I have trouble supporting on an emotional, visceral level: the police. In particular, the Montreal Police Brotherhood.

When this group isn’t trying to defend officer’s pensions, they’re standing up for officers like those who murdered Freddy Villanueva and countless others. Say what you want about the STM union and their tactics, but at least they’ve never argued for bus drivers to have the right to run over people if colour they don’t like.

city hall protest firefighters
Monday’s City Hall protest (screengrab from CTV raw footage)

You can’t separate the police from this fight, you can’t even separate them from the action on Monday. The last time student protesters went to City Hall, they couldn’t even get up the steps, never mind in the door and into the council chamber.

The only way Monday’s protesters were able to accomplish what they did was through unofficial police support. That’s cheating in my book.

So here we are, we can’t have solidarity with this group of workers who are protesting without having solidarity with the cops as well. This is a bigger dilemma than that time a few years ago when I realized that supporting STM workers meant I also had to support that asshole bus driver on the 17 route who clearly saw me running for the bus, waited until I was almost at the stop and then sped off.

In that moment, standing on the corner, late for family dinner, I forgot my deeply held convictions and only thought about how I could get that one asshole fired. It’s easy to see how people committed to social justice and workers’ rights can have a problem defending the rights of workers who so brazenly defile the rights of others on a regular basis.

Is it right or is it smart to show solidarity with those who clearly don’t show it to you? Can class consciousness include those who those who serve the elites primarily and only acknowledge that injustice exists when it affects them personally? Is being in solidarity with the police kind of like cheering on your high school bully when he scores a touchdown for the school’s football team? Should we ignore who’s involved and focus instead on the big picture?

These are all very good questions and I don’t have an answer for any of them. What I do have is a suggestion for an action that is also a test.

I’d love to see ASSE or another group on the SPVM hitlist organize a solidarity demo against Couillard and Bill 3. Bring back the red squares, maybe use some of the wording from the red squares that currently adorn police cars, don’t follow P6, don’t provide a route and just see what happens.

Best case scenario, this ushers in a new solidarity where cops in future demos start ignoring their commanders and refuse to enforce bullshit laws against those who stood with them. Most likely scenario is the cops either let the march happen or kettle it quickly and hope it doesn’t get much media play.

No matter what happens, though, this would be a chance for activists to truly take the high road while flipping the script on those in power and their enforcers, if only for a bit.

* Top image: Shayne Gryn via Facebook

Montreal’s police department, the SPVM, has finally crossed a line that they can’t very easily step back over. It’s not their blatant violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms while enforcing Municipal Bylaw P6, it’s not their mass-kettling of peaceful protestors, the SPVM seem to be getting away with both those infractions on our liberty.

No, this is something more heinous than even the most hardened recipient of police repression can fathom. It’s their choice of font. Yes, we have obtained a copy of an official document, a disclosure of evidence before trial for being at an “illegal protest” (which, for those of us that can remember a time before P-6, means being at a protest), and it is written in Comic Sans MS. Yes, the most hated of all fonts.

Katie Nelson is one of hundreds of people who recieved this document today. She is also the recipient of many other SPVM documents (she’s suing the city for political profiling) and thinks that the SPVM’s choice of font is indicative of the way our police department has been behaving.

“Comic Sans MS is friendly looking but an incredible violation of the art of calligraphy,” Nelson argues, “it may look cute with it’s rounded edges and curly js, but looks can be deceiving. Just like P6, which claims to ensure the safety of participants but is really only an unconstitutional anti-protest law intended to violate the basic right of dissent.”

Are we Montrealers going to stand for this. Comic Sans MS on official police documents is an affront to common decency. C’mon, this isn’t 1998, back then we had the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

police ticket montreal comic sans ms

If we push and push hard against the SPVM’s use of Comic Sans MS and win, it will be a great victory, one we can all share. Maybe then we can get together and try to do something about P6, or at the very least, get the suspension of our basic rights in a font like Arial or Times New Roman, not Comic Sans MS, the P6 of fonts.

I didn’t go to the Montreal Anti Monsanto March Saturday. It’s not because I’m lazy and it’s not because I support Monsanto, far from it. They’re a horrible company and protesting them is necessary.

I didn’t go because the organizers decided to follow the wholly unconstitutional bylaw P6 and provide the SPVM with their route. It’s not as though they didn’t know it was a problem.

For weeks, activists posted on their Facebook event page letting them know why this is wrong. They even started polls and event attendees voted almost unanimously not to provide a route. Instead of taking potential participants’ wishes to heart, organizers deleted the posts and kept with their line.

They cited security concerns. Now while I can understand someone not wanting to bring their kids or themselves into a mini war zone, that wouldn’t have been the case with this march.

The SPVM have made it crystal clear, in action though not in speech, that they’re not shutting down protests like this one, route or no. They didn’t enforce P6 at the anti-Harper rally after activists convinced organizers to not follow P6 and don’t get me started on Habs victory celebrations.

Montreal Anti-Monsanto March 2014 (7)

No, the SPVM have made it clear that they’re only kettling, fining, arresting and even injuring protestors at marches they deem undesirable like student protests, the Anti-Police Brutality March and May Day to name a few. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem.

It’s also why all activists, no matter where they are on the political spectrum, need to, at least symbolically, oppose P6. If the SPVM can decide what protests are okay and which ones can’t happen (don’t kid yourself, submitting a route for their approval gives them that power) then we’re all screwed.

Whether you’re fighting for immigration reform, against police brutality, against whatever it is the right wing protests or against Monsanto, it’s your right. If you let the SPVM take that away from some people then they could very easily take it away from you, too.

If you’re against Monsanto then you should be against P6. When enforcing this horrid law, the SPVM are acting like Monsanto.

Monsanto genetically engineers our food supply so we get Franken-foods. P6 gives us Franken-rights.

It’s just a route, a simple request. Well, it’s just corn, GMO corn, a simple alteration.

Monsanto pits neighbour against neighbour. The SPVM pits activist against activist. It’s working on both fronts.

Montreal Anti-Monsanto March 2014 (6)

Monsanto forces farmers to buy their terminator seeds by selling them to the farmer’s neighbour and then threatening legal action when the wind blows a few patented seeds from one property to the other. The SPVM sells one group of activists the idea that they’ll be fine if they take one simple step and submit a route and then uses that group’s acquiescence as justification to both physical and legally attack another group who didn’t buy their rights-terminating bylaw.

In both cases a foreign body is introduced into an ecosystem that doesn’t need it or want it. Terminator seeds and P6 are both poison.

If you want to think local, think about not staying silent when the SPVM and P6’s political supporters, our own local Monsanto genetically engineer our rights. Then protesting the conglomerate will make sense.

Photos by Iana Kazakova.


Mayor Coderre,

First off, I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t vote for you. In fact, I openly supported your opponents.

I am, however, a lifelong Montrealer and you are now my mayor. And if you are the mayor of all Montrealers, then I ask you to listen to what I have to say.

Recently, you’ve surprised me – in a good way. A special status for the city is long overdue, and even though your pilot project to let bars stay open later seems to be aimed mainly at tourists, it’s a good start, and you’re the one who took the first steps. So kudos for that.

You get this city. You know that we have a long love affair with the Habs and I’m sure you’re also aware that we have a long history of activism for social justice.

While you let playoff victory celebrations continue uninterrupted, as you should have , last Thursday your police force, our police force, pre-emptively kettled three May Day demonstrations simultaneously. Why the double-standard?

You understand that people expressing their support for the Habs should be allowed to continue unless they turn violent and you’re right. Why not apply the same approach to people expressing their political opinions?

Let’s be honest, more destruction happened in the last hockey riot than in a year of student protest. But I’m not asking for an unbalanced approach, just a fair one: if there’s no violence, let it continue, if there is violence, arrest those committing the violent acts…period.

While you may love hockey and not understand why people are protesting other things, it doesn’t matter. It’s not your call, Mr. Mayor.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to freedom of expression and assembly. It doesn’t say anything about providing a route.

The changes your predecessor made to by-law P6 a couple of years ago were wrong. The ensuing mass kettlings are a blow to Montreal’s reputation as a progressive international city, whereas the Maple Spring was a sense of pride and didn’t hurt our tourism, despite dire predictions and warnings.

may day arrests 2014 chart
Image by G.A.P.P.A.

Before, people protested things the federal and provincial government did. Now, activists are fighting for the very right to protest, and they’re fighting you, Mr. Mayor.

I call on you to take yourself and the City of Montreal out of the equation. I call on you to respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I call on you to repeal the changes made to P6 under the Tremblay administration.

You didn’t pass this legislation but your administration is now enforcing it. Your administration can change this situation and I’m sure most of the opposition will support you on this.

Ideally, I’d ask you to also apologize to all those detained and fined and reprimand or fire the top SPVM brass behind P6 enforcement, but you seem to want to take things slow. Fine, start your drinking-time extensions on just a few touristy streets and start your reform of police tactics by upholding our fundamental rights and freedoms.

Montreal loves the Habs, we love our  late night revelry, and we love our fundamental freedoms and history of activism. You get the first two, now is the time to embrace our progressive political movements and truly be the mayor of all Montrealers.

Katie Nelson is a Montreal-based activist and protest organizer. This post originally appeared on her blog Marois&Moi and is republished here with permission

When the municipal by-law P6 first came into legislation, our spirits were high and our fists still raised. Many of us spoke of the inevitable resistance to it, just as thousands had gathered to oppose its sister, Loi 78, just months before. I remember vividly the lectures hundreds would give to riot police while mass arrested on the anti-constitutionality of the by-law, on their impending doom and our uprising’s fate.

The struggle against P6 continues, now approaching court rooms and judges, and it still is an unconstitutional use of law, but our fists have weakened and our spirits lowered as the effects of anti-protest crack downs continue to repress more than just our ability to manifest, but most significantly our ability to organize together.

spvm riot squad

A protest planned for March 1st in coordination with several others across Canada, was organized against Harper. Although the two main organizers have insisted an over-seeing group, unnamed, were responsible, a decision within a small faction of people was made to collaborate with Montreal’s police, the SPVM, and cooperate under the legalities of P6.

Not long after the organizer posted the route and informed the attendees of their decision to cooperate with police, an enormous dissent grew on the event page. Most were simply asking why, while others inquiring on the decision-making process and their exclusion from it.

Within a few hours, organizers across Canada from other Anti-Harper Protest groups had stormed the page in disagreement with the persistent deletion of comments, censorship of opinions and vocal participants, the cooperation with police and the attitude of the organizers; most distancing themselves from the Montreal protest and those responsible for it.

The following evening the event page disappeared and a message was sent out explaining the organizers had cancelled the event due to bullying and intimidation. Fortunately, resistance is not owned by two individual people, nor can it be micro managed by political motive or liberal ideology. Several new events resurfaced, all calling for action in solidarity across Canada, non-compliant with P6 and anti-protest laws and open to vocalized opinions from the public.

The following few days, the true effects of police repression showed themselves, with even a sabotage attempt from the now ex-organizers on a few others, dividing groups and drawing lines in the sand of our struggle.

My position on P6, although public, remains the same as when I initially stated it: I stand strongly against anti-protest laws, including P6, C-309 and “Protest Insurance Policies” (as seen in Western Canada), relevant to political manifestation. I am indifferent, and unqualified to speak to the choices and decisions of protests which serve to platform the voices of Indigenous Rights, Solidarity Across Borders, Status for All and Immigrant Solidarity, as these struggles are not my own and I am only an ally within them, thus not a place for me to speak about the laws in which they choose or not choose to abide by.
That being said, if not now then when will we finally open the floors of discussion on police repression and the successful use of P6 in not only the streets, but in our abilities to organize effectively? When will we identify that repression and political prosecution has been an event for thousands in this city and continues to be insofar as we allow it?

Camus, in a speech given at the Labor Exchange of Saint-Etienne in May of 1953, said: “The contention was that we needed justice first and that we would come to freedom later on, as if slaves could ever hope to achieve justice. And forceful intellectuals announced to the worker that bread alone interested him rather than freedom, as if the worker didn’t know that his bread depends in part on his freedom.”

We cannot believe that by abiding by this law we will seek freedom soon thereafter. We cannot fall for the bread alone, in exchange for the nonexistent pensions of liberty.


P6 is but an adaptation of Loi 78 and this law in any form or of any name strips us of freedom, far before the thought of attaining it ever crosses our minds. The opposition to P6 is opposition from the very individuals in which the law represses. Abiding by P6 and giving a route without consulting the lambs in which these legislations serve to sacrifice is the purest and most insensitive form of non-solidarity our resistance and struggle has been victim to.

We cannot be surprised when the left pulls from calls to protest in which organizers collaborate with police, and we cannot shame those who boycott those organizers and protests. All of this leads to a much more significant question: why is this a surprise for so many organizers? Why do organizers take it personally when the very people they organize for refuse to associate with submission?

I suppose Burroughs said it properly when he said, “A functioning police state needs no police.” And with this, we must always remember: our opposition’s keepers stand in the streets with us, but only to stand across from us and never beside.

It is important that we have solidarity with allies. Cooperating with P6 and collaborating with the SPVM is not solidarity with anyone other than the state.
The question here is not do we give the route, it is how we arrive at that decision. Direct democracy is essential to the survival of the resistance, consensus should be sought and when dissent arrives over executive decisions, those organizers should acknowledge the opposition and work to compromise.

I boycotted this manifestation and these organizers not because of bruised pride or unacknowledged concerns, but because I stand in solidarity with the many thousands of people facing political prosecution daily in the courtrooms of Montreal, because these people stood with me during a six month strike and every day after, and they never compromised themselves or me in the process. We need to stand together against P6 if we ever hope of standing together against the state.

* photos by Chris Zacchia

The world was supposed to end in 2012. It didn’t. In fact, if 2013 in the news is any indication, it didn’t even change all that much.

There were a few pleasant surprises, a few unpleasant ones, some things didn’t change at all, for better or worse, and there was distraction and that’s where I’ll begin…


Biggest distraction of the year? Without a doubt, this guy:

rob ford tired

Not only did Rob Ford dominate the headlines in Canada, distracting from the Senate scandal among other things, he managed to take top billing in the US for a while, overpowering problems with the Obamacare rollout, and even made headline news in Africa. His biggest accomplishment, though, seems to be that his crack use and personal problems have distracted everyone from the fact that he really has terrible policies and kinda sucks as mayor.

The biggest distraction this side of the 401 has got to be the Charter of Quebec Values, or the Charter of Secularism or whatever Marois and company are calling it now. It’s garnered the ire of everyone from the Jewish General Hospital, QPIRG Concordia and even Anonymous and it’s the proof that, despite how they may try to promote it, the PQ has lost any progressive cred they may have had.

With even Harley Davidson coming out against it, it’s clear that some people are seeing through what it essentially a cynical ploy designed to galvanize the right-wing separatist portion of the PQ’s base. Marois’ endgame is clear: re-establishing politics as usual in Quebec, which brings us to…

More of the same

You’d think in a year that saw a record-breaking three different mayors of Montreal, there would be some change. Well, unfortunately, Montrealers, or a small portion of them, voted in Denis Coderre, a candidate that ran with a good chunk of Gerald Tremblay and Michael Applebaum’s former Union Montreal teammates. So far, he’s stuffed the executive committee with his own people despite not having a majority and has declared war on erotic massage parlours, something he didn’t mention at all during the campaign.

Denis Coderre

2013 also saw more police repression with the SPVM enforcing bylaw P6 in a very unapologetic and hardcore way. It’s also been the year of police political profiling, fortunately some activists like Katie Nelson are now fighting it in the courts and the court of public opinion. ortunately, protesting Stephen Harper still seems to be kosher in Montreal.

It’s also nice to see that the Idle No More movement continues to grow, despite it not being as big in Quebec. Local activists here did have a facepalm-inducing run-in with the cops when they tried to put up a tipi in Montreal. F

There’s also supposed to be another multi-million dollar building going up on the lower Main, an area that doesn’t need it. But, believe it or not, it’s not all more of the same locally, there were…

A few pleasant surprises

We’re getting new metro cars! And we’re not talking about a few tweaks, this is actually a new design! Who would have thought such a thing was possible?


Also, Projet Montreal did end up doing quite well in the municipal election. They held on to two boroughs, nearly added a third, became the official opposition and held Coderre to a minority on council. Melanie Joly also had an impact on our municipal scene and will be someone to watch in the years to come.

Most of the pleasant surprises this year happened in Ottawa (David DesBaillets goes through some of them) and internationally (Niall Clapham Ricardo takes a look at socialism on the rise). For me, the biggest standouts are how Canada just decriminalized prostitution, the courage of Edward Snowden and the fact that the US somehow managed to bungle its way out of a war that nobody wanted or needed in Syria, but most (including me) thought was inevitable.

So that’s just a brief look at how I saw 2013. I do hope that in 2014, we can do away with the distractions and the status quo. That would be a pleasant surprise, but not an impossible one.

* Top image by Jay Manafest

Mélanie Joly is the newest face on the Montreal political landscape. Rather than join up with an existing party and start her political career running for a city council position, the 34 year old lawyer, PR professional, former Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Fondation du CHUM and Fondation de l’ITHQ board member and founder of several political think tanks in Shaughnessy Village is running for our top municipal job, Mayor of Montreal.

“I was profoundly frustrated with what was going on in Montreal,” Joly explained, “I think that in order to make sure that you really offer change, you have to be coherent, you have to start from scratch. So we thought let’s develop an entirely new program with an entirely new team. We’re a political startup.”

Her team, Le vrai changement pour Montréal – Groupe Mélanie Joly, currently consists of 46 candidates, most of them in the 25-40 age range. With 103 seats up for grabs in the municipal election, Joly is “very open” to working with people in other parties if she wins, regardless of what party they come from.

“I don’t have a preference,” she said, “what’s most important is that people are competent, people walk the talk and people have integrity.”

Melanie Joly speechWe were speaking before Joly took the stage as an invited guest at les Jeudis d’Apollo, a monthly series showcasing Montreal’s artistic talent alongside people behind some of the city’s newest startups. An appropriate venue given how Joly sees her new party but also her love of Montreal’s nightlife.

In order to prevent Montreal from becoming “another suburb” she is proposing that we create a nightlife charter. In fact, it’s one of the key points of her platform. Basically, bar and restaurant owners would enter into a pact with residents “to make sure that everybody is happy and that there’s a good balance between interests.”

She wants to use this approach in all parts of the city, not just the areas that already have a vibrant nightlife. She cited the emerging Notre Dame Street bar scene in the Sud Ouest borough and all the new restaurants that opened up on Fleury Street in Ahunsic over the past decade as examples of where such a charter could be effective.

“It’s really important to understand the realities in different neighbourhoods,” she added, “I don’t think that it’s the same solution throughout Montreal. I think you must adapt to every neighbourhood, to every borough.”

While Montreal may be famous for its nightlife, it’s also well known for its activism. One of the most contentious things the current city council did was pass amendments to Municipal Bylaw P6 banning masks at protests and requiring protesters to provide a route which needs to be approved by the police, otherwise the protest could be declared illegal.

After mass kettling this past winter, people started calling for the changes to be repealed. There was a vote, with then interim mayor Michael Applebaum arguing for the bylaw to remain intact and Projet Montreal trying to remove the changes completely. Applebaum’s side won, barely.

Joly agrees with P6 critics that there should be no legal restrictions on wearing a mask at a protest. She also feels that the SPVM has too much discretion when it comes to applying P6. But she also thinks that any group seeking to demonstrate in Montreal should provide their route.

“For us, it’s fundamental, it’s a question of balance of rights between people using public space and also demonstrators,” Joly stated, “I really believe we need to find a practical solution where people can express themselves and that we protect freedom of expression but at the same time that we are able to really make sure that there’s good planning in terms of resources on the part of the city when the demonstrators are demonstrating.”

But who should get to approve the routes, the police or another body? Joly feels there is a need for clarity.

“We need to make sure that there’s a policy that really is clear in terms of what can be done,” she said, “right now there’s too much discretion. We must make sure that the new generation of Montrealers respect the work done by police officers and if there’s too much discretion given to them and too much arbitrariness, that won’t help and they won’t necessarily want to respect an authority that has too much power over them. It’s a fine line but we must make sure that the rights are being well balanced.”

It seems balance is important for Joly, whether it has to do with protests or nightlife. Will Montreal’s electorate balance in her favour? We’ll all find out on the third of November.

* Photos by Valeria Bismar