Charest Loi 78 – Making Thought and Ideas a Crime

From press conference given by Amir Khadir, MNA for Mercier, about Loi 78, 18 May 2012 (video in french & english, english translation & transcript at link below)

“Every law must be obeyed in society, but sometimes the laws are so unreasonable and unjust that they prohibit the same things that are most precious, such as freedom of thought and speech. This is what Mr. Charest’s truncheon does, banning fundamental freedoms. Civil disobedience, is not only great actions such Gandhi’s walk or the actions of Martin Luther King. With the Charest’s law, even an supporting the idea of civil disobedience – with this new law – supporting the idea of civil disobedience without committing any act whatsoever can constitute an offense punishable by heavy fines and even imprisonment.”

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Press briefing by Mr. Amir Khadir, MNA for Mercier
On Friday, May 18, 2012, 13:45 pm
Room-Bernard Lalonde (1131), Parliament Buildings

Original version: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/actualites-salle-presse/conferences-points-presse/ConferencePointPresse-9107.html

English Transcript:

Mr. Khadir: Thank you. Soon, in a few hours, Bill No. 78, a truncheon law, will be adopted by the Charest government. This law is an unjust law, an abuse of power that removes not only from students but from everyone, all citizens of Quebec, many of our most fundamental rights: the right to demonstrate, the right to express our opinions. Quebec Solidaire (QS) is committed to invalidating the law. We support legal action for a petition to quash the motion, to annul the law, and we call on all our partners in society, citizen’s groups, civil society society, the Quebec Bar, intellectuals, socially responsible artists, environmentalists and unions, to think together about the possibility of disobeying this law in a peaceful manner. We will also conduct this discussion in QS.

Every law must be obeyed in society, but sometimes the laws are so unreasonable and unjust that they prohibit the same things that are most precious, such as freedom of thought and speech. This is what Mr. Charest’s truncheon does, banning fundamental freedoms. Civil disobedience, is not only great actions such Gandhi’s walk or the actions of Martin Luther King. With the Charest’s law, even an supporting the idea of civil disobedience – with this new law – supporting the idea of civil disobedience without committing any act whatsoever can constitute an offense punishable by heavy fines and even imprisonment.

You know that this is a manipulative government who has played with the truth, we have seen this in the construction and corruption cases. The government tried to convince us that this law applies only to the instigators, the rioters. In fact, this is a law that targets freedom to demonstrate and is not limited to the rights of students. This freedom is more fundamental, I used the example of freedom of speech, like wearing a red square, the affirmations of bloggers and intellectuals like Jean Barbe, journalists like Josée Legault, or entertainers, or facilitators like Jeff Fillion, could be viewed as encouraging students and other demonstrators to break the law by the Ministry of Education or legal authorities. We could all be attacked by this law and forced to pay heavy fines.

But there is a particularly unfair quality to the law that makes it that now I would like to do something that, in my eyes and I hope in the eyes of several other MPs in the coming hours or in the coming days, will been seen as creating a security perimeter around a particular person that the law almost singles out by name, this is the spokesman of the student movement, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. Why do I talk about a security perimeter? It is a moral buffer zone. This law, which is vicious and vengeful, contains an article, Article 30 which will void previous injunctions to resume classes that were approved. These injunctions led to Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois being held in contempt of court. The law [78] invalidates the motivations for the injunctions but not the consequences…Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois was charged with contempt at the tribunal for simply expressing his opinion.

So here’s the view he expressed, I will express the same opinion, I live by my words, I hope that other members of the national assembly will too. If the government decides to use the brute force of the law to crack down on Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the government should be consistent and should also crack down against all those citizens and deputies who have committed to repeat the same words. So on May 13, on the airwaves of RDI, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said: “What is clear is that those decisions are attempts to force a return to classes. It will never work because the students have been on strike for 13 weeks, are in solidarity and generally respect the democratic process that was expressed by the votes to strike and I believe (and Amir Khadir also believes) that it is perfectly legitimate it is perfectly legitimate for students to take steps that are necessary to enforce the democratic choice that was made. It is very unfortunate (and Amir Khadir believes that it is very unfortunate) that there is a minority of students who use the courts to circumvent the collective decisions that were taken. So I find it perfectly legitimate for people to take the necessary steps to enforce the strike vote, and if it takes picket lines, we believe – I believe (and Amir Khadir believes) that it is legitimate to do so.”

[Transcript of question period available here.]

Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.

*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at translatingtheprintempsderable@gmail.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.

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