An open letter to Denis Coderre: Abolish P6 and truly be the mayor of all Montrealers

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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.

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