Patience for Quebec police in camouflage pants running out, minister says

Quebec's Public Security Minister says he is thinking about forcing police officers to wear their standard uniforms.

Martin Coiteux comments after judge throws out $1.2K fine for man pulled over by unrecognizable officer

Over the years, Quebec police officers have donned camouflage pants to protest lagging contract talks and most recently, changes to their pensions. (CBC)

Quebec's Public Security Minister says he is thinking about forcing police officers to wear their standard uniforms.

Martin Coiteux says he's being patient with police officers, but that his patience may soon run out.

"I allowed them the time to think about the situation, I think they received signals from citizens, I think they received signals from judges, I think they should understand the situation. There's still some time to go, but it's not going to be infinite," Coiteux said.

His comments come a day after a union representing peace officers agreed to suspend their protest and stop wearing camouflage pants in hopes of advancing talks between the two parties.

Coiteux said the union's decision was responsible and a gesture of goodwill.

Judge nullifies fine given by officer in camo pants

Coiteux was also reacting to the news that a municipal court judge threw out a $1,200 fine for a Laval man who was pulled over by a police officer wearing camouflage pants.

Marc-Olivier Caron, 29, was driving on des Laurentides Boulevard last July when he was caught on a radar gun driving 71 km/h. The speed limit is 50 km/h.

The police officer, Nathalie Dagenais, was on the street corner but then moved into the street as Caron approached. She motioned at him to pull over, but Caron said she wasn't wearing what qualifies as expected police-officer attire.

"Camo pants, yellow [vest] … It wasn't written anywhere [that she was a police officer]," he explained during an interview on CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Marc-Olivier Caron said the officer that tried to pull him over was dressed similarly to these Montreal police officers. He said he thought she was a crossing guard. (CBC)

Caron said he slowed down, thinking Dagenais would continue walking. He didn't stop completely because there were people following him, he said.

But Dagenais said he didn't slow down and she had to move "at the last second," according to the court decision. She then got into her cruiser and pulled Caron over.

She gave him two tickets — one for speeding and the other for dangerous driving. Caron contested the second charge.

Last month, the judge sided with Caron, saying she believed he slowed down and as such the officer had ample time to get out of the way if she thought her life was in danger.

The judge also decided it was reasonable for Caron to act the way he did because he didn't recognize the woman in the road was a police officer.

'It leads to confusion'

Montreal lawyer Avi Levy said he believes there may be more cases like Caron's if police keep wearing their protest uniforms.

"While they're wearing the pants, it leads to confusion and it led to a valid defence," he said.

He said motorists who are unsure if they're being stopped by an actual police officer can call 911 and ask the dispatcher to verify.

Officers started wearing the camouflage pants and red baseball caps in 2014 after the government proposed changes to municipal employees' pension contributions.

The proposed changes became law in December of that year.