Quebec rapidly passes a ban on COVID 19-related protests near schools and hospitals

Quebec — The Quebec Parliament swiftly adopted a bill on Thursday banning protests related to the COVID-19 pandemic within 50 meters of schools, day care and medical facilities.

The bill was introduced early in the day and was unanimously passed after hours of discussion.

Under the law, “every way” demonstrations near protected institutions can be health orders issued under the COVID-19 emergency, vaccination against the new coronavirus, or “related public health authorities”. It is prohibited if it is related to “Other Recommendations Issued by”. COVID-19 for a pandemic. “

The Center for Adult Education and Junior College have been added to the list of protected locations at the suggestion of liberal member Marwah Rizqy. The government also accepted an amendment introduced by Andres Fontecilla, a member of the Québec Solidaire, stating that the law does not apply to employees of conservation agencies allowed to protest better working conditions. rice field.

Public Security Minister Genevieve Gilbeau, who submitted the bill, said the issue was related to COVID-19 and that the law would apply to parents protesting improved ventilation in their children’s schools.

The law was enacted following several recent protests outside Quebec’s schools and hospitals against COVID-19 vaccination and health orders.

In a Facebook post Thursday morning, Prime Minister François Lugo said he understands that limiting the right to protest is a subtle issue. “But frankly, there are limits.”

“Probably the most shocking thing to me is to imagine how nurses feel this,” he added. “These women and men have been working hard for months to care for people infected with COVID, despite difficult working conditions.”

A person who violates the ban can be fined between $ 1,000 and $ 6,000, and if he threatens or threatens anyone entering or exiting one of the sites specified by the bill, the fine will be doubled. Amendments to the bill mean that new measures will expire after 30 days, but the government reserves the right to renew them while the COVID-19 state of emergency is in effect.

Earlier that day, Claire Samson, the only elected member of the Conservative Party of Quebec, said she was concerned about the law and needed more information.

“I take this very seriously, but it takes some time,” she said. “I need to ask my question, I need some answers, and I need to suggest some amendments.” Samsung is concerned that the law has no expiration date. Said. Despite her concerns, Samsung finally supported the adoption of the bill.

The bill also faces criticism from Quebec’s civil liberty group, Ligue des droits et libertes. In a statement Thursday, the group said the law would create “excessive restrictions on the right to protest,” adding that existing legislation that guarantees access to schools and hospitals, as well as criminal law, would suffice.

“Everyone can exercise freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate, even if the message is unpopular,” Catherine Descoto, the group’s coordinator, said in a statement.

Quebec reported 754 new cases of COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths associated with the new coronavirus on Thursday. Hospitalization increased by 3 to 283, and 90 patients received intensive care.

Caroline Plante

Includes files from Jacob Celebrin in Montreal.

Canadian press