Saint-Bruno criticized for police presence at council meetings
A video posted online has many people criticizing the need for police presence at city council meetings in Saint-Bruno on Montreal's south shore.
The video created by 99% Media, an independent media organization, shows several instances in which police officers expel citizens from municipal council meetings after asking councillors tough questions.
Some residents said the police were installed at city hall in January 2012 to keep people quiet.
"Having a police presence at municipal council is absurd. You expect citizens to be able to ask questions to elected officials. It's ridiculous to use strength... if they don't want to answer questions," said Martin Guevremont, a resident of Saint-Bruno.
Municipal councillor Michèle Archambault said having police officers monitor the meetings creates mistrust among citizens.
"When we really want to hear people and we want an open debate, we don't need police presence. No one is dangerous in Saint-Bruno," she said.
Saint-Bruno Mayor Claude Benjamin defended the council's decision to have police at the meetings.
He said the video is not a fair representation of all council meetings. He said only three people were asked to leave during the last year.
Benjamin said people are only asked to leave if they are out of line.
"That's to say, when people yell, are boisterous or give the middle finger. Elected officials are not here to be insulted," he said.
In Montreal, security guards attend the meetings but the police force is not involved. In Laval, however, officers attend every meeting and kicked out three people in 2012.