Montreal

Demonstrators call for respect at International Women's Day rally in Montreal

The Collectif 8 mars, which represents 700,000 women through different women’s groups and unions, said it believes Gilbert Rozon’s appearance is a good opportunity to highlight inequalities between men and women.

Event held at Montreal's courthouse coincides with court appearance by JFL founder Gilbert Rozon

An International Women's Day demonstration in Montreal coincided with a court appearance by Just For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Dozens of people gathered outside Montreal's downtown courthouse Friday for a demonstration to mark International Women's Day and a scheduled court appearance by the disgraced founder of the Just For Laughs festival.

The Collectif 8 mars, which represents 700,000 women through different women's groups and unions, said it believes Gilbert Rozon's appearance was an opportunity to highlight inequalities between men and women.

The demonstrators held signs that read "we believe you" and "Le respect, ça se manifeste," a reference to fighting for respect through protest.

Rozon is facing one count of indecent assault and one count of rape, charges that were part of the Criminal Code when the alleged events occurred in 1979.

The hearing was to determine whether Rozon will be tried before a jury, or by judge alone, but it was postponed until April 25.

The participants brought colourful, home-made signs to the rally. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Gabrielle Bouchard, a spokesperson for collective, said the event wasn't just to denounce sexual and physical violence against women, but also economic and institutional violence.

She said the group has several demands for the province, including increasing minimum wage.

"Anything below $15 an hour keeps women in poverty. and for us it's important to talk about women in poverty because most people [making] minimum wage are women."

She also wants the government to ensure child support isn't counted as revenue and reinvesting in public and social services.

The austerity measures over the last few years, she said, had a huge impact on women.

"They are the first ones who are using public services, and also they are the first ones for working in those services also."

Bouchard said she will bring up those points to Isabelle Charest, minister responsible for status of women, during a meeting this afternoon.

With files from Elias Abboud