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By protecting elected officials, the CAQ “muzzles” citizens, conservatives believe

Photo: Karoline Boucher The Canadian Press “Citizens have the right to make their voices heard and criticize their representatives without fear of punitive measures,” says the leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec, Éric Duhaime.

Isabelle Porter in Quebec

Published yesterday at 1:42 p.m. Updated yesterday at 11:36 p.m.

  • Quebec

Bill 57, which provides for the imposition of fines on citizens who intimidate elected officials, gives mayors and councilors “excessive” powers that undermine freedom of expression, the Party maintains Conservative of Quebec (PCQ).

“Citizens have the right to make their voices heard and criticize their representatives without fear of punitive measures,” says its leader, Éric Duhaime.

The bill presented recently by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, was intended as a response to the wave of denunciations from elected officials about the growing intimidation to which they say they are subject. It makes liable to a fine “anyone who obstructs the exercise of the functions” of an elected official “by threatening, intimidating or harassing him in such a way as to cause him to reasonably fear for his integrity or his safety”.

The expected fine amounts are between $500 and $1500.

During his outing on Thursday, the leader of the PCQ was accompanied by Luce Daneau, defeated candidate of his party in the last elections and mayor of Wickham. This municipality became last year one of the symbols of the toxic climate in certain cities since two successive mayors resigned citing it.

However, Ms. Daneau, who was one of the mayor's critics before being elected, believes that he was not treated unfairly by the population. “Elected officials or citizens may have the feeling of being intimidated, but in reality, is it intimidation ? It’s in the psychological domain,” she declared to < i>Devoir in November 2023.

The PCQ even associates this “drift” with the crisis that occurred in Sainte-Pétronille, in the island of Orléans. “The definition of what constitutes harassment or disorder varies depending on the person involved,” he argues.

“We saw this in the municipality of Sainte-Pétronille, where a simple petition pushed the local administration to send a formal notice to 97 citizens who were demanding clarification. Do we really want to legalize and normalize this type of practice ? Me, no,” says the mayor of Wickham in a press release.

The Conservative Party is not the first to express its concerns regarding Bill 57. The League of Rights and Liberties of Quebec has also expressed concerns on this subject.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116