Exactly one year since lock-down measures began in Quebec, some 10,000 demonstrators marched in the streets of Montreal last Saturday calling on the Quebec government to end what that are calling “unnecessary” measures and “abuse of power”.
The March began at the intersection of McGill College and Sherbrooke and came back around to the same spot, near the office of Premier Legault, after a three-hour, 8.5-km trek.
Some protesters even stood on the roof of a tall buildings near the edge, encouraging marchers, over 70 meters below them to carry on.
On the ground, loudspeakers collided as police were announcing COVID-19 safety regulations while several demonstrators encouraged the crowd to shout out “Liberté” (freedom) and other mottos supporting the movement.
Police presence was heavy and included SWAT teams who displayed unorganized aggression towards demonstrators and media alike. Two Suburban reporters, including the Editor-in-Chief, were physically handled by officers while covering the demonstration.
Multiple arrests were made, and multiple tickets were issued.
A group of approximately 12 protesters taunted police officers at every intersection all the way through. At the end of the protest, officers pepper sprayed protesters who increased their taunting tactics to physical violence, by throwing objects at officers.
On March 13, 2020 — the Quebec government announced the first 30-day lock-down. A year later, the measures have increased after morphing from one regulation to another almost incomprehensibly to the general public. Though vaccinations are underway and according to government statistics 296,143 (3.48% of the total Quebec population) have tested positive for the virus since the start of the outbreak in the province, Legault insists that the health care system is overwhelmed, though The Suburban visited multiple hospitals in the city and spoke to ICU designated staff, doctors, nurses and hospital administrators who shared the common viewpoint that there have been no exceptional surges since last April but that the medical system was and is overwhelmed more and more each year regardless of COVID-19 and that the novel virus has highlighted the already existing weaknesses of a broken system.
“Look at the numbers!” one demonstrator said to The Suburban. “We are being called sheep by sheep!” he said.
Many anti-mainstream media signs could be seen at the demonstration and some of the organizers constantly criticized the media via social media, even accusing mainstream media outlets of censorship and manipulating the public.
The Suburban attempted to reach one of the organizers of the protest to no avail, as has been the case throughout the COVID-19 crisis on several occasions, at multiple protests, before and after.
On site, The Suburban spoke with dozens of protesters — many of them are parents who disagree with the provincial government’s regulations on masks for elementary school students, others the curfew and the majority expressed the opinion that they deplore censorship of any kind.