January 19th, 2021

Quebec COVID curfew raises concerns over enforcement, profiling, advocates say

By The Canadian Press on January 7, 2021.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault listens to a question during a news conference in Montreal, on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL – Civil rights advocates say they’re concerned Quebec’s new provincewide curfew is not justified by science and will be enforced in a way that has a disproportionate impact on racialized people and the vulnerable.

Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday that a curfew will be imposed between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. beginning Saturday and until Feb. 8 in order to stop people from socializing and spreading COVID-19.

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.

Michael Bryant said today 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.

But Montreal epidemiologist Christopher Labos says that while it’s hard to prove which measures work best against the virus, he says he believes the curfew could help discourage people from gathering and says it sends a message about the seriousness of the pandemic.

He said today that Montreal hospitals are becoming overwhelmed and will soon run out of resources to treat patients if the province doesn’t take action to reverse the trend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 7, 2021.

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