Justice has just approved a payment of 6 million dollars by the City of Montreal to thousands of demonstrators targeted by mass arrests in the streets of the metropolis between 2011 and 2015.
This final green light allows the City to settle 16 class actions, which have sometimes dragged on for many years. Most of the events were related to the 2012 student strike.
“In each of the files, the plaintiffs alleged that the police forces of the City of Montreal had violated the fundamental rights of the demonstrators and had caused them damage”, summed up Judge Martin Sheehan, of the Superior Court, in his decision handed down. last week. “The agreement is fair, equitable and in the interest of the members. »
The agreement between the City of Montreal and the lawyers in the file was concluded last fall, but it had to be approved by the courts.
In the end, after paying the fees of the lawyers involved in the case, each protester will be entitled to a sum of around $1,500.
“We are all satisfied with this settlement agreement and the fact that the judge approved the agreement. It is the culmination of many years of litigation for our clients and for all the thousands of members they represent,” said Ms.e Justin Wee, one of the attorneys on the case. “This regulation will discourage any police force, in the future, from carrying out these mass arrests which interfered with the freedom to demonstrate. »
“We still worked ten years on it,” added Me Marc Chétrit, another lawyer in the case, who indicated that his clients were also satisfied with the agreement. “Freedom of expression and association are increasingly under attack in our society,” added Mr.e Sibel Ataogul, Partner at Melançon Marceau Grenier Cohen. We hope that the City’s apology is more than empty words but will mean that concrete actions will be taken to prevent these violations from happening again. »
In addition to signing a check, the City of Montreal must post a letter of apology on its website for 90 days. It is currently posted on the municipality’s litigation page, in the maze of the website.
The City “recognizes that certain actions taken by the police forces and the municipal administration with regard to the participants in the demonstrations targeted by these class actions have infringed some of their fundamental rights, thus causing them damage, will indicate the message. It is for this reason that the City of Montreal publicly apologizes to all these people. »
“To the extent that the agreement reached allows the settlement of 16 class actions totaling more than 53 million claims, […] such an out-of-court settlement is satisfactory for the City,” said Gabrielle Fontaine-Giroux, head of communications for the City of Montreal, by email. “In addition, it thus makes it possible to avoid the costs and hazards of a very long trial. The court’s approval is therefore welcomed. »