A new type of protest has started in Montreal with hundreds of lawyers marching through the streets in silent protest against the emergency law on demonstrations.
Quebec province has just gone through 106 days of protest and massive actions by students, outraged over tuition hikes.
The government has brought in an emergency law called Bill 78, which lays down strict regulations for demonstrations numbering more than 50 people.
Yesterday over 500-700 lawyers, notaries and legal professionals donned their courtroom gowns and walked silently through the streets of Montreal, Canada's second largest city. The lawyers were cheered on by crowds, with many onlookers shouting "Merci!"
It is to be noted that the lawyers' protest was organized in accordance with the same controversial bill they are protesting about. They are sworn to uphold the law, and so the police received notice of the march 8 hours before it began. Also the marchers walked in silence, causing no noise disruption in the city.
Remi Bourget, one of the organizers, said that some lawyers were worried they might be fined under the new bill for taking part. “That’s why we especially wanted to march legally, in our black robes and in silence,” he told The Montreal Gazette.
A 23-year-old articling lawyer, known only as Pierre explained, “We don’t want to break the law but we want to contest it.”
Although the new law, which passed on May 18 mainly targets students and teaching staff, the lawyers opposed it as they find it unjust and “probably unconstitutional.”
Lawyer Denis Barrette says, “There are so many vaguely worded parts to this law. It gives an incredible amount of discretionary power to police. It also makes the education minister judge and jury when it comes to deciding if student groups are legal.”