Last night as in virtually all the previous nights, the students and their many supporters marched through the streets of Quebec. Despite the fact that the march was as usual non- violent and peaceful the police moved in and arrested over 100 people.

Although I have sympathized with the student position I have had no strong motivation to pursue the protest as an active participant until last Monday night. The deciding factor was the passage of Bill 78 limiting the constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech, so I joined them on the peaceful march.

 Last night the police moved in and arrested people for no other reason than that they had not obeyed Bill 78 and chose to exercise their right to assemble.  There is a time and place for police and the maintenance of order in society, but when citizens in a peaceful and law abiding manner exercise their constitutional rights and are arrested, then it is not the people or the community that is mocked but the law makers themselves. The actions of the government and the police are not at all what they claim them to be, concerns for traffic and being able to protect the populace, these are nothing more than pretence to cover what can only be described as a denial of fundamental freedom.

Tonight I go to the National Assembly and speak to the students and the hundreds who will be there to support them to denounce the use of Bill 78 on peaceful law abiding citizens. What we need now, is for the two sides to meet and speak in good faith. It is only by a willingness to engage in discussions in good faith that this impasse will come to an end.  

If citizens can be arrested en masse for a peaceful and non-violent march protesting an issue that is, in their view, highly important, then it is a very small step for arrests to be made for far less. This must not be tolerated by any citizen if we are to call our society truly democratic. The great concern for me and I think for many is how our governments in Canada are increasingly resorting to diminishing rights rather than communicating and cooperating with the citizens who elected them.