Quebec student protest class-action suit gets green light

Jean-Pierre Lord is taking the City of Montreal to court over what he says were illegal and arbitrary detentions during last year’s student demonstrations.

More than 500 plaintiffs seeking $7,500 each in damages

Jean-Pierre Lord launched a class-action lawsuit against the city for damages related to being detained during last year's student tuition protests. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Jean-Pierre Lord is taking the City of Montreal to court over what he says were illegal and arbitrary detentions during one of last year’s student demonstrations.  

Quebec’s Superior Court yesterday authorized a class-action lawsuit against the city based on a protest last May during which police arrested 508 people.

Protesters were herded onto city buses, where they waited for hours before being released with a $634 fine.

“Eight hours… of detention, in the bus, the windows closed,” Lord says.

“It was extremely hot, many people were sick.”

Lord says police refused to allow people to use the bathroom and Lord says he was told to urinate in the back of the bus.

“The city tried to say that because the protest was declared illegal that the lawsuit was unfounded,” Lord says.

He says the court is allowing the class-action suit to proceed based on three points: the mass arrests, the detention and the conditions during the detention.

Lord's lawyer Marc Chétrit says this is a question of basic rights.

"You have to look at the issue in terms of fundamental freedoms. People were peacefully protesting," Chétrit says.

"They were kettled on a busy intersection and they were held with their hands tied behind their backs overnight without access to washrooms."

Lord is asking for $7,500 per person — $2,500 for the arrest, $2,500 for the detention and $2,500 for human rights violations.

He said everyone who was arrested that day is automatically included in the suit because of Quebec's opt-out policy on class-action lawsuits.

"Upon the public notice being published in the papers, they have a certain time frame to withdraw," Lord says.

Lord expects to be back in court in early 2014 to formally file the lawsuit.


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