Pots and Pans Protest of Quebec's Bill 78

Demonstration Tuesday Night
This week in Montreal, residents opposed to the provincial government's Bill 78 took to the streets to protest their loss of civil liberties by banging on pots and pans. Introduced to stop students protesting tuition hikes, this emergency law restricts protests, picketing and the freedom of assembly. As a result of this legislation, all demonstrations with 50 people or more require prior police approval, and failure to comply can result in fines from $1,000 to $5,000 for individuals.

It was soon after that a Facebook group, Les casseroles contre la loi 78, was started. It encouraged residents to assemble each night from 8:00 to 8:15 pm to express their discontent using their choice of metal kitchen implement. This tradition of demonstration, Cacerolazo, hails from Chile and Argentina and was an effective means of protest for people not wanting to leave their homes. As some of you may recall from my previous posts, most demonstrations have started downtown. But how could this draconian law be enforced if there were small pots and pans demonstrations all over the city?

In my neighbourhood of Villeray, people have been meeting at the Jarry-St. Denis intersection. On Tuesday night, joyful, elated demonstrators of all ages waited on the four corners banging on their aluminum salad bowls, woks, turkey basters, pot lids, colanders, double broilers and sauce pains waiting for the light to change.When the light turned green, demonstrators marched across the street and waited on the next corner for the light to change again. Other than some short-lived noise, no law was broken.

Demonstration Wednesday Night
However, on Wednesday night nearly 700 people were arrested in Montreal and Quebec City, which further fueled support for the small neighbourhood casserole demonstrations. Last night, Friday, we went out to the Jarry-St. Denis corner to find the entire intersection crowded with people banging their pots with their favourite kitchen utensils. I must add that the richest sounds are made with a good old wooden spoon. But this time around, people had brought horns, drums, cymbals and were even playing mail boxes and parking signs with drumsticks. But the sound was not chaotic; in fact, everyone worked together to create a definite beat. At 8:30 pm the demonstration headed south up St-Denis street where protesters received enthusiastic encouragement from residents on sidewalks and from a few ensembles on balconies pounding out their own rhythms.

These demonstrations are a wonderful festive way to get together with people in our community whom we might not otherwise meet. Overall, this is a fun, exhilarating means of civil disobedience, and the perfect opportunity to show our children that our rights and freedoms are worth protesting. My nine-year-old was enthralled by the experience and didn't want to stop until we showed her the flashing red police lights at the end of the street and the eerie sight of an empty bus creeping up behind the crowd, the holding vehicle for mass arrests.

Other student demonstration-related posts:
Riotous Super Moon in Quebec
Montreal: 200,000 People Protest




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