Police in Quebec asked to use judgment when enforcing curfew, Guilbault says

Police in Quebec asked to use judgment when enforcing curfew, Guilbault says



With Quebecers bracing for a nightly curfew beginning this weekend, the province says it is a citizen’s responsibility to abide by the restriction or — in the case of exceptions — to provide proof as to why are they are out and about.Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault stressed that most people should be staying home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. as ordered over the next month.“We all know these measures are demanding, but ultimately we’re doing this to save lives,” she said while laying out the details of the curfew.Quebec, which announced stricter lockdown measures this week to curb the spread of COVID-19, is the first province to issue a curfew. People who are caught flouting the new rule between Jan. 9 and Feb. 8 face fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.
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While there are a few exceptions to the curfew — including work, medical emergencies, walking the dog and leaving home for essentials — Guilbault explained that Quebecers will have to be able to provide some kind of evidence if they are stopped by police.For workers, this means having a note from an employer. Guilbault said those who run out to the pharmacy for medication or an essential item such as food should keep their receipts.Those who have left their properties and cannot provide a valid reason risk steep fines, she added.“It will take a good reason to circulate,” Guilbault said. [ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]
The goal of the curfew, she added, is to prevent the minority of Quebecers who are still breaking the rules from socializing. But Guilbault also stressed that anyone who is in danger or a violent situation and needs to leave home should do so.Police will enforce curfew, but civil rights advocates worryWhen asked about how the curfew will be enforced, Guilbault said she is “confident” that police will use their judgment as they have with other public health measures that have been implemented in the pandemic.

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But civil rights advocates are expressing concerns about how enforcement could have a disproportionate impact on racialized people in the province.The executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says he fears the measure could lead to overzealous ticketing and arbitrary police stops that have been shown in the past to excessively impact people who are Black, Indigenous, homeless or poor.

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Coronavirus: Quebec official discusses amnesty for homeless community, workers during curfew

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Michael Bryant said the government should provide data proving a curfew is necessary and effective before imposing what he described as an “extraordinary” measure that is usually applied to criminals and high-risk offenders on bail.When asked whether measures had been taken to ensure racialized minorities aren’t disproportionately targeted by police enforcing the curfew, Guilbault said the law will apply to everyone equally and that steps had been taken to fight racial profiling by Quebec officers. Story continues below advertisement

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Montreal police, for its part, said in a statement that it recognizes the “seriousness of the current situation” and the importance of enforcing public health“The SPVM will see to the deployment of the personnel necessary for the rigorous application of these measures,” the force said. “When the decree is sent to the SPVM, it will be the subject of an analysis by legal affairs in order to specify the scope of the police powers in connection with these new provisions.”No road blocksThe government doesn’t plan to erect road blocks in Quebec, according to Guilbault, even if police officers can ask drivers why they aren’t home.Guilbault also explained that Ottawa residents who are in Gatineau will also be expected to abide by the curfew and will be subject to fines.She added that non-essential travel between regions in the province is strongly discouraged.“The objective is to stay home,” she said.— With files from The Canadian Press

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