Quebec swiftly passes new bill to ban anti-vaccine protests near schools and hospitals – .

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Quebec swiftly passes new bill to ban anti-vaccine protests near schools and hospitals – .


MONTREAL – After only a few hours of debate, the National Assembly of Quebec voted unanimously on Thursday evening to pass a new bill that would prohibit anti-vaccine protesters from demonstrating near schools, daycares, hospitals, as well as COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites – – an offense punishable by a fine of up to $ 12,000.

Bill 105 was not tabled until Thursday morning by the provincial Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, but it took little time for deputies to debate the new bill which will give police officers new powers. to impose fines on people who demonstrate within 50 meters of these places, depending on their behavior.

Fines of $ 1,000 to $ 6,000 would apply to anyone demonstrating too close to these locations against health rules or COVID-19 vaccination. This includes mobile clinics.

Fines of $ 2,000 to $ 12,000 could be imposed on anyone who intimidates or threatens people coming or leaving or attempting to access these sites.

Fines could be doubled for repeat offenders.

The bill also prohibits organizing or inciting people to organize such demonstrations.

Quebec leaders said the measure would be temporary and designed that way. At the request of the Conservatives, the measures in the bill will expire in 30 days, but allow the government to extend them for another 30 days.

Following a recommendation from Liberal MP Marwah Rizqy, the bill will also cover adult education centers as well as CEGEPs.

The bill now specifies that it will not apply to workers, who, for example, want to demonstrate for better working conditions outside their hospital.

On the other hand, parents who wish to organize a demonstration for better ventilation outside their child’s school will be prohibited from doing so, as this is linked to COVID-19, Guiltbault said. They will have to do it outside the perimeter of 50 meters.

Shortly after the passage of Bill 105, the Minister of Public Security tweeted: “We must protect Quebeckers, and we still do so today. Thank you to the oppositions for their collaboration.

CONCERNS ABOUT THE SCOPE OF THE BILL

Legault said this week that the government has lost patience in the face of anti-vaccination protests like this, after several cases of picketing outside Montreal-area schools and at least one outside a hospital.

Independent MP Claire Samson, who joined the PCQ, warned, however, that she thought the government was trying to “restrict the freedom of expression of some citizens.”

“It’s no small feat,” she said. “Are we going to have a special bill every week to target a group of protesters?”

Despite his reluctance, Samson gave his consent to the government at all stages of the process, but not without questioning the government’s motives.

“As a legislator, it is our responsibility to ask questions,” she said Thursday.

“THIS IS A QUICK BILL”

Samson is not the only one with reservations about the bill. Lawyers also wonder if the bill covers too much ground.

Pearl Eliadis, a Montreal-based human rights lawyer, said she appreciated the intent of the bill, but believed it was casting too wide a net, in part because of the number of institutions affected by this one.

“This is a rushed bill, it is coming very quickly,” she told CTV News before the bill was passed.

“I hope that the opposition will respect, on the one hand, our collective will to protect children and to ensure that people can access education and health facilities without harassment, without intimidation… but at the same time , make sure that you “do not capture other forms of legitimate and democratic public protest”.

At Thursday’s press conference, the prime minister defended the bill and told reporters “now is the right time” to introduce this special measure.

He says limiting the ability of people to protest is not something the government takes lightly.

“It’s never easy to say, ‘You can’t protest, you can’t go to the streets,’” he said. “We wanted to do it right. “

–With files from CTV’s Matt Grillo and The Canadian Press

Correction:

An earlier version of this article stated that the upper limit of a fine was $ 10,000, but it is $ 12,000. The article has been corrected.

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