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François Legault reiterates that the McGill encampment must be dismantled

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press The Premier of Quebec, François Legault

Stéphane Blais – The Canadian Press at L’Assomption

Posted at 1:18 p.m. Updated at 3:51 p.m.

  • Quebec

The Prime Minister of Quebec reiterated that the pro-Palestinian encampment at McGill University must be dismantled, while the police remain “on the lookout for developments in the situation”.

Passing through his constituency of L'Assomption on Friday morning, François Legault once again asked for “the illegal encampment” to be dismantled on the university campus, even though the Superior Court of Quebec on Wednesday rejected a request for an injunction to move the encampment erected since Saturday.

“There are all kinds of very legal ways to demonstrate”, but “to set up an encampment on university land that does not want this encampment, it is illegal”, argued the Prime Minister, adding that he “is counting on the police to dismantle it in the way they think is best, then at the moment they think who is better.” The prime minister made the same request on Thursday, 48 hours after university officials requested police assistance, saying they had failed to persuade protesters to end what they called illegal action .

At the same time in Montreal, the Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, declared that he had “total confidence in the SPVM for the future” and for the “operations that they will carry out to dismantle this”.

“A dangerous precedent”

Also Friday morning, the Quebec Federation of Teachers and university professors (FQPPU) published a press release in which it said it was “concerned by the recent comments” of the Prime Minister.

“University campuses have, since always, places where ideas confront each other, sometimes vigorously,” declared Professor Madeleine Pastinelli, president of the FQPPU.

“In a free and democratic society, it is not up to political power to give orders to the police on operational questions” and “that the Prime Minister attacks the freedom of expression of demonstrators by calling for an intervention by the police against them constitutes a dangerous and worrying precedent,” added the president of the FQPPU.

The police officers assess the situation

For its part, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) published a press release in which it wrote that it had taken note of the decision rendered by the court to reject the request for a provisional injunction from two McGill students, due to “the absence of a demonstration of an emergency”. The SPVM has indicated that it will closely follow “the legal debates surrounding this dispute” and will remain on the lookout for developments in the situation.

“Let us remember that the role of police officers in such a situation is to ensure peace, good order, the safety of people, while respecting rights and freedoms,” wrote the police force.

On Thursday, the Federal Minister of Justice, Arif Virani, rebuked Prime Minister Legault about his position. “Police operational decisions are always their decisions independent of politicians. This is always the case in a democracy like ours. […] It separates us from other countries where we do not respect the rule of law, so it is extremely important,” he said upon his arrival at the Canadian parliament.

< p>Protesters are demanding that McGill, as well as nearby Concordia University, cut financial ties with companies they say are “profiting from the genocide” in Gaza. They also want the university to cut all ties with certain Israeli institutions.

Trudeau says he trusts universities

Justin Trudeau believes that universities must be trusted to manage their campuses, while pro-Palestinian camps have emerged on Canadian campuses. The Prime Minister was asked about this on Friday, while making a housing announcement in Hamilton, Ontario.

According to him, universities are places of learning where ideas can be exchanged and debated, but at the same time, everyone should feel safe on campus.

The International Court of Justice is investigating whether Israel committed acts of genocide in the ongoing war in Gaza, and a decision is expected to take years. Israel has rejected allegations of wrongdoing and accused the court of bias.

Israeli's campaign in Gaza was launched after Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing nearly 1,100 people and taking many hostages. The Israeli offensive has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local authorities, under the control of Hamas.

The Canadian Press

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