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Quebec City and suburb of Saint Foy ban scarves during Summit of Americas

Quebec City and the suburb of Saint-Foy have passed an anti-scarf by-law as a security measure for the Summit of the Americas in April.
February 26, 2001

Quebec City and suburb of Saint Foy ban scarves during Summit of Americas

Anne Marie Owens and Heather Sokoloff
National Post
Ian Lindsay, The Vancouver Sun

Protesters at talks of the World Trade Organization in Seattle covered their faces. Quebec City and the suburb of Saint-Foy have passed an anti-scarf by-law as a security measure for the Summit of the Americas in April.

People in the Quebec City suburb of Saint-Foy could soon risk being arrested for wearing scarves or covering up their faces.

A new by-law, which was adopted as part of security preparations for the upcoming Summit of the Americas conference in Quebec City, is one example of precautions being taken to squelch the activities of anti-globalization activists and protesters who typically target these types of international gatherings.

In addition to the scarf by-law, authorities plan to install a three-metre high metal fence around several square kilometres of Quebec City and allow only those with passes inside the perimeter. The area will be enforced by 3,000 to 5,000 police, RCMP and riot squads from across the country, and police are freeing up 500 spots in the Quebec City prison to make room for arrested protesters.

The by-law adopted by Saint-Foy councillors, which will be enforced during the weeks leading up to and including the April summit, permits police to immediately arrest someone in a crowd if even part of their face is covered. A similar by-law is already in place in Quebec City.

If arrested, the burden of proof rests with the accused for providing a valid excuse for covering up their faces, according to the by-law.

"I think the Quebec authorities responsible for this owe the public a pretty full example as to why they think an extraordinary measure like that is needed," said Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. "I can imagine all sorts of perfectly logical reasons why someone would have part of their face covered."

Mr. Borovoy says his organization grew concerned after
seeing how various cities have fought the inevitable protests and hearing how Quebec authorities were ramping up for this particular session.

He says authorities "should not arrest, detain, search, seize or use force beyond what is necessary to uphold the law."

The association has criticized the focus of the security tactics and urged the federal Solicitor-General and Quebec's Public Security Minister against using a heavy-handed and one-sided approach.

"Just as it is important to ensure the security of the
summit, it is no less important to protect the viability of the protests," said Mr. Borovoy.

"It is beginning to appear that the protesters will be quarantined miles from the centre of conference activity ... The further away the protesters are, the less viable their protest will be."

The April 20-22 meeting will bring together the leaders of 34 countries, including Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister, and George W. Bush, the U.S. President, to discuss creating a free-trade zone covering all of North and South America.

These gatherings have become a touchstone for anti-globalization activists,particularly in the wake of the violence that erupted at the 1999 World Trade Organization talks in Seattle.
 
 

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