Montreal Could Ban Swearing At Police
You may have to watch your mouth next time you find yourself pulled over by a police officer in Montréal. It may soon be against the law to insult the police. While I don't condone abusive language aimed at anyone and I realize that cops have to at times put up with horrible verbal abuse, making coarse language against the law is not exactly a victory for free speech. And it turns out that some Quebec locales have already passed this type of bylaw. My question is whether the bylaw applies the same to insults in English and French.
The goal is to encourage respect toward police officers on the beat, especially at night when bars close and during protests, said Yves Francoeur, president of the Montreal Police Brotherhood, the union representing officers.
"There is a lack of respect for police officers working on the streets," he said Monday. "What we are [experiencing] when they close the bars on St. Laurent Street from Thursday night to Saturday night, there's always trouble."
Police officers are "victims of intimidation and threats" which would be tempered if a bylaw were in place.
"It's only a question of respect," Francoeur said. "We have to respect a code of ethics when we deal with citizens, so they have to respect us too."
Discussions underway are weighing the feasibility and applicability of such a bylaw in Montreal, said Paul Chablo, director of communications with the police force.
"I kind of agree with the concept that respect has to be earned," he said. "But there are extreme cases where police officers are abused, and it can deteriorate into bad situations."
One issue on the table is what would constitute an insult — pig, donut-eater or worse, Chablo said.
The proposed bylaw would fall under Montreal's public order law. It's not clear what kind of fine any infraction would carry.