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Legault asks the SPVM to dismantle the pro-Palestine encampment at McGill

Photo: Graham Hughes The Canadian Press “I will let the police decide how and when they do that, but the camps must be dismantled,” insisted François Legault.

Marie-Michèle Sioui and Zacharie Goudreault in Quebec and Montreal

Posted at 12:14 p.m. Updated at 1:23 p.m.

  • Quebec

Prime Minister François Legault on Thursday asked the Montreal Police Service (SPVM) to dismantle the pro-Palestine encampment at McGill University. An avenue that is being ruled out for the moment by the police force, whose officers are present in large numbers in the city center of the metropolis on Thursday to avoid a confrontation between the members of this encampment and pro-Israel demonstrators gathered near the university.

“It’s an illegal encampment. […] The law must be respected. So I expect the police to clear out these camps, which are illegal. And that’s what McGill asked,” he told reporters.

The Prime Minister emphasized that a judgment rendered Wednesday by the Superior Court attests to the illegality of the encampment in support of the Gazan people. Judge Chantal Masse pointed out that the demonstrators “illegally” occupied McGill land by camping there. She nevertheless considered that there was no urgency to act to dismantle the protesters' installations, thereby rejecting the request for a temporary injunction which aimed to prohibit this mobilization.

“If you read the decision, it clearly says it’s illegal. It is clear to me that it is illegal and we must respect the law,” argued Mr. Legault.

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He left it to the SPVM to choose the moment to intervene. “I will let the police decide how and when they do this, but the encampments must be dismantled,” he insisted. Joined by Le Devoir, the police reiterated that they have no intention of intervening for the moment to dismantle this encampment, where no criminal act has occurred. was committed.

The Prime Minister stressed that he understood the concerns of the demonstrators. “We are all worried about what is happening in Gaza, I can understand. People can express themselves in demonstrations, they are legal, allowed,” he stressed.

“It is illegal to have a camp on land private and McGill said they don't want it,” he then qualified, in a response in English.

“Is the Prime Minister of Quebec, which is a democratic society, can thus decide that something is illegal ?” replied Thursday Professor Michelle Hartman, who teaches Arabic literature at McGill University, met Thursday near the encampment erected since Saturday on the university grounds.

Strong police presence

The professor also deplores that dozens of police officers on bicycles and on horseback were deployed in front of the grounds of McGill University, in downtown Montreal. They were sent there as a preventive measure, in the context of a demonstration started at the beginning of the afternoon by several Jewish groups from McGill and Concordia universities opposed to the presence of this encampment, where they claim that comments anti-Semites were uttered.

In anticipation of this mobilization, a few hundred people gathered at 11:30 a.m. to call for an end to the violence in the Gaza Strip and to press McGill University to cut its financial and academic ties with Israel, while brandishing flags of Palestine. On the other side of the Roddick Gate, the entrance to which has been closed to pedestrians as a security measure, numerous Israeli flags are waved in the air by a crowd calling for the release of hostages taken by Hamas during the Hamas attacks. October 7.

“We are here to say that we too want an end to the war, we would like to have a ceasefire, it’s just that we want the immediate return of our hostages” , argued in an interview with Devoir the law student at McGill University Jamie Fabian, who acts as spokesperson for this demonstration in support of Israel .

The latter deplores in particular that the Zionists are described as “racist” in the context of the encampment present at McGill. He also associates the use of the term “intifada” by pro-Palestine demonstrators with anti-Semitism, which the latter dispute.

“While some outside the gates claim to be concerned about the Jewish people, they should not just operate this propaganda machine, which only adds to the crime, which only fuels the hatred . They should attack the root cause of the problem, which is the occupation of Palestine,” reacted Rabbi Dovid Feldman, of the Neturei Karta organization, opposed to Zionist ideology.

The encampment at McGill University had a snowball effect in Ontario and British Columbia, prompting similar encampments to spring up on the grounds of six other universities. Protesters are urging these universities to cut their financial and academic ties with companies and institutions associated with the military attacks that have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the Gaza Strip in recent months.

“The right to express oneself and demonstrate is fundamental, but it is absolutely necessary to preserve the peaceful character of Montreal,” reacted Thursday the mayor of the metropolis, Valérie Plante, on X. “Our metropolis values ​​peace, listening and inclusion. In Montreal, it is possible to express yourself while respecting rights and laws. We must all defend these common values”, which the SPVM is there to enforce, she continued.

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