P-6 in Montréal

By Macho Philipovich

A police car with a panda head strapped to the hood.

This year, the tool of choice used by the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) to disperse and demobilize social movements has been Montreal’s anti-protest bylaw concerning the prevention of breaches of the peace, public order and safety, and the use of public property—better known as bylaw P-6. Although the regulation originated in attempts to suppress the 1960s protest movements, in 2012 the city fast-tracked three amendments to bylaw P-6. These changes were triggered by state panic in the face of massive and persistent student protest against proposed tuition hikes, and came on the advice of the SPVM.

It is now an offence under P-6 to attend any public gathering unless its location and itinerary have been provided to the SPVM in advance; it is now also an offence to cover your face at any “gathering on public property … without a reasonable motive, namely using a scarf, hood or mask”; and the fines for violating the bylaw have been hiked considerably, with a first offence now carrying a fine of $500–$1,000 (usually at least $637), as opposed to the previous $100–$300.

Already this year, over a thousand Montrealers have been ticketed under P-6. Tickets are often levied before demonstrations have even begun, or after protestors have been detained by riot police for hours using a containment tactic known as a “kettle.” The SPVM have arbitrarily declined to enforce P-6 in other situations, such as at Montreal Canadiens hockey celebrations.

There is still widespread resistance to P-6: community groups including the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC) have announced their determination to defy the P-6 amendments until they are repealed; group legal actions are being initiated against the SPVM’s “kettling” tactics; and local heartthrob Anarchopanda has initiated a court challenge, which will be heard in October.

Because P-6 is a municipal bylaw and not a criminal provision, a ticket under P-6 carries no direct criminal consequences and will not show up on your criminal record. For practical information on how to challenge a ticket under P-6, contact the CLAC legal self-defense committee: write to info@clac-montreal.net

Anarchopanda taunts the police. A thought bubble contains the words This Diversity of Tactics Crap Better Work.