Quebec appeals court upholds law limiting protests
MONTREAL — A court of appeals in Quebec on Monday upheld a lower court’s rejection of a request to scrap parts of a controversial law enacted to quell student protests against tuition hikes.
Special Law 78 was passed on May 18 after clashes between police and students opposed to an 82 percent tuition hike at universities in the French-speaking province of eight million people.
By law, protest organizers must now give police at least eight hours advance notice of any demonstration, and face hefty fines if they fail to do so.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s centrist government says the measure protects the peace by simply outlining where and when protests may occur.
Opponents, however, say it breaches their rights of assembly and free expression.
In its ruling, the lower court rejected a petition submitted by students to suspend two provisions of the law while waiting for consideration of another petition which challenges the constitutionality of the law.
Judge Francois Rolland, in explaining the lower court ruling, wrote that the sections in question “do not prevent protests, even if certain limitations are imposed.”
They target organizers, not protest participants, he added.