Montreal police are urging municipal authorities to pass by-laws in March that would enable them to ticket and fine anyone who verbally insults them. The issue has draw concerns about freedom of expression from a number of activists and academics including Professor Dick Moon at Windsor Law.
In addition, there is a concern that vague laws like this will serve as a vehicle to promote racial harassment for two reasons. First, they provide the police with a pretext to conduct a criminal investigation. Indeed, a number of concerns have been expressed over the number of existing by-laws governing conduct known as "incivilities" and the disproportionate impact these laws are having on Black and Latino youth in Montreal. See the 2007 submissions of CRARR (Centre for Research Action on Race Relations) to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Second, given the sensitivity of those in power when accused of racism, the police are more likely to use this power when confronted by insults from Aboriginal and racialized individuals than from Whites.
Posted by Professor Tanovich