Montreal trying to recoup money it says was lost by lax policing
Police issued 35 per cent fewer tickets in July 2014, as protests against Bill 3 mounted
The City of Montreal wants the Quebec labour relations board to hold the police brotherhood to account for revenue it claims was lost by police issuing fewer tickets to protest against Bill 3, the province's proposed municipal pension reforms.
Last week, the city requested a labour board hearing to address what it said were disguised pressure tactics by the police brotherhood in its fight against the pension reform bill.
The city alleged Montreal police officers were purposefully issuing fewer tickets than usual, and the labour board ruled in the City of Montreal's favour.
City officials said the number of tickets issued was down by 35 per cent in July 2014, as compared to the same month a year earlier.
"The reality is we felt that there is a link between what is going on right now and those numbers. We felt that afterwards, the brotherhood has to pay," Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre told a news conference Thursday afternoon.
"We have a process. We believe in the rule of law. We'll go in front of the [labour relations board]. We'll say what we have to say and the referee will say who is right and who is wrong."
'It's not a question of safety — it's a question of money'
Yves Francoeur, the head of the Montreal police brotherhood, said there's been no order issued by the union to curb the issuing of tickets.
He acknowledged the number of tickets handed out may have dropped but denied said that was due to pressure tactics.
He pointed to a 35 per cent drop in vehicle collisions in Montreal this year and said there were fewer instances where tickets were warranted.
Francoeur accused the city of picking a fight.
"It only proves something: the tickets for the City of Montreal, it's not a question of safety — it's a question of money. They want us to give tickets just to get money," he said.
Francoeur said the police union will fight the grievance
Firefighters up their protest tactics
Hand-painted banners decrying the suspension without pay of 35 firefighters involved in the chaotic Aug. 18 City Hall protest against Bill 3 appeared on fire stations across the city overnight.
The banners read: “Coderre has a family to support…so do our 35 firefighters!”
The 35 firefighters were suspended indefinitely. A total of 41 firefighters face criminal charges including assault, unlawful assembly and mischief.
The Aug. 18 protest saw hundreds of firefighters and other municipal workers storm a city council meeting as it was about to begin.
The workers marched into council chambers chanting, blowing horns and tossing papers in the air.
Montreal police set up a special investigative group to look into the incident the next day.
At the time, Coderre condemned the actions of the protesters as "savage and unacceptable."
Banners 'send a message'
Firefighters' union president Ronald Martin said the banners were meant to communicate that its members are deeply concerned about the situation.
"These members have been suspended without pay for a month and the administrative process [for resolving their suspension] has hardly begun. They have families to feed too," he said.
The City of Montreal ordered the stations to take the signs down, a move which Martin said infringes on their freedom of expression.
The union passed along the order and told the stations to remove the banners.