Fight over Quebec protest law goes to court - InfoNews

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Fight over Quebec protest law goes to court

A protester opposing Quebec student tuition fee hikes holds a sign and a flag during a demonstration in Montreal on June 3, 2012. Lawyers are in court today to challenge a controversial provincial law brought in to deal with ongoing student protests. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
June 12, 2012 - 11:32 AM

MONTREAL - Lawyers are in court today to challenge a controversial provincial law brought in to deal with ongoing student protests.

Nearly 20 lawyers representing student federations and other groups are trying to get parts of the law temporarily suspended until they can argue the merits.

Since Bill 78 came into force in mid-May, police across the province have rarely applied it, though it has provided fuel for protests and for opponents of the Charest government.

The motion being heard today is one of two legal motions filed challenging the emergency law. The second is to have Bill 78 declared invalid altogether and it will be heard at a later date.

The government argues that the law preserves the rights of students to attend school, while also respecting free speech.

It lays out rules for demonstrations, such as ordering assemblies of more than 50 people to give eight hours' notice of the protest route and the estimated duration of the event. It also sets hefty fines for people who contravene the law.

A lawyer arguing on behalf of students today says the government treats student associations like labour unions without giving them the same rights.

The government introduced the law as a way to cool down heated student protests, but it may even have backfired politically, as protests against the government have grown larger, attracted more diverse crowds, and spread to different cities.

Lawyers for both students and the government are expected to argue through out the day. Justice Francois Rolland, chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, is hearing the case.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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