The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has written to the Mayor of Montreal, and to city councillors, to express its concerns regarding the City of Montreal’s proposed adoption of amendments to a bylaw that would make it illegal to wear a mask during a public demonstration, and that would require demonstrators to provide prior notification to police authorities of their meeting place and route.
CCLA’s concerns are centered around the fact that the proposed amendments would place unneccesary and unconsitutional restrictions on fundamental democratic rights. Furthermore, the amendments are worryingly vague and ill-defined. “The vague and broad provisions lend themselves directly to abuse through discretionary application, discriminatory enforcement against marginalized groups. The CCLA calls on the elected representatives for the City of Montreal to reject these proposed amendments and undertake a review of the existing Regulation for constitutional compliance,” wrote the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in its letter to the Mayor and city councillors.
Montreal is a vibrant cultural and political centre, with many artistic, cultural and social performances, parades, marches and gatherings taking place on city streets. CCLA is worried about the potential implications of these amendments for freedom of speech, of association and peaceful assembly. “Such severe restrictions on liberty and expression are clear violations of the rights protected in the Quebec and Canadian Charters”, CCLA wrote.