Montreal to stage another Jacques Cartier Bridge light show after police protesters crash party

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says the city will hold a second Jacques Cartier Bridge light show after thousands of protesting Montreal police officers barged in on Wednesday evening's launch spectacle.

Mayor Denis Coderre says 2nd show needed after off-duty officers barge in on bridge illumination spectacle

Fireworks explode over an illuminated Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal Wednesday night to celebrate the city's 375th birthday. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says the city will hold a second Jacques Cartier Bridge light show after thousands of protesting Montreal police officers barged in on Wednesday evening's launch spectacle.

"I was sorry for the thousands of Montrealers who were waiting peacefully for the illumination of the bridge," Coderre told the city's executive committee Thursday morning.

"Montrealers were the big losers Wednesday night, and that's sad," he later told journalists. 

It took the collaboration of seven companies, more than 2,800 light fixtures and plenty of trial and error to bring to fruition the $39.5 million project. 6:38

Coderre said it hasn't yet been confirmed whether the second show would be the same as the first, or when it would take place.

He also didn't venture an estimate of the cost of remounting the light show.

"What's important is that everyone has a chance to enjoy it," Coderre said.

The interactive lighting system, which can respond to the flow of traffic, weather and even social media mentions of Montreal, will illuminate the Jacques Cartier Bridge for at least the next 10 years.

Coderre called it Montreal's new "signature," comparing it to Expo 67, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

2,000 off-duty police march to Old Montreal

The union representing Montreal police officers organized the protest to coincide with Wednesday's official celebrations of France's founding of Montreal on May 17, 1642.

More than 2,000 off-duty police officers answered the Montreal Police Brotherhood's call and marched down St. Denis Street to Old Montreal, where thousands of people had gathered to watch the launch of the $39.5-million light show on the bridge.

According to unconfirmed reports and tweets, the union projected its logo on one of the bridge's pillars as the illumination spectacle began.

Protesting police also shone flashlights toward dignitaries and others gathered near them to interfere with their view of the light show.

One of those in the crowd, Shubhanker Joshi, told CBC that their actions were unacceptable.

"They deliberately caused a lot of disruption with their horns and whistles.... There were infants crying because of the level of the noise [and] some of us could not see the bridge," he said.

"Protests are an integral part of our democracy, but public disruption when the whole city is gathered for a major celebration is not justified."

Protest in 'good faith': union president 

Speaking Wednesday night, Montreal Police Brotherhood spokesperson Yves Francoeur, said the protest was meant to underscore the union's determination and its good faith, even after three years of negotiations.

"It was a demonstration of solidarity, a demonstration of our determination and to show Montrealers and the administration that despite the fact it's been three years, we are still applying pressure and won't bend our knee."

Montreal police have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2014.  

Protesting police held flashlights aloft to interfere with the light show's impact. (CBC)

"People have the right to protest, but they have to do so in a way that respects Montrealers," Coderre said. 

Coderre told the city's executive committee that "our police could have done so in a better way and still get their message across."

"That way they would have left people in peace to live that unique moment," he said.

Coderre said the union "lacked judgment" in choosing to stage its protest when it did and accused it of "attacking the quietude of Montrealers."

Protests marred 'exceptional day,' mayor says

Asked if he would seek a commitment from the police union not to interfere a second time, Coderre said his thoughts are only with Montrealers who had an otherwise "exceptional day" interrupted by the protests.

"Many Montrealers couldn't benefit from this magnificent show like many of us," he said.

"It's my job to ensure all Montrealers can benefit from the [city's 375th anniversary] celebrations."

Earlier Wednesday, the union unveiled billboards around Montreal showing Coderre wearing a party hat, with the sarcastic slogan, "A mayor who shows contempt for his police officers for three years must be celebrated."


With files from Radio-Canada


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