June 25th, 2024

Quebec adopts law to fine people who intimidate, harass politicians

By The Canadian Press on June 6, 2024.

Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest announces an environment program for municipalities, Thursday, February 8, 2024 in Scott, Quebec.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Quebec’s legislature has adopted a law that includes fines up to $1,500 for anyone who intimidates or harasses a politician.

The Coalition Avenir Québec government has said the law is necessary to stem the rise in resignations of elected officials, particularly at the municipal level, but critics have said it threatens free speech rights.

The government introduced the legislation shortly after an organization representing Quebec municipalities released a survey indicating 74 per cent of elected municipal leaders reported having experienced harassment and intimidation, and that 741 out of 8,000 had quit since elections were held across the province in 2021.

Aside from fines, the law allows elected officials to ask the Superior Court for an injunction against a citizen who threatens, intimidates or harasses them.

Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest amended the bill in response to criticism – including from media companies – to include wording that affirms the right of citizens to freely participate in public debates.

Laforest also amended the bill to specify that Crown prosecutors rather than the provincial elections agency would be responsible for charging someone who threatens or intimidates a politician.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.

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