Tag Archives: SPVM

Concordia Professor “Attacked” by Montreal Cops: David Waddington Plans to Launch Complaint Against the SPVM

David Waddington, an associate professor in Concordia University, is filing a complaint against the SPVM for an incident on Wednesday night. Photo Matt D’Amours

(Originally published on December 11, 2015) On Wednesday evening, David Waddington, an associate professor in Concordia University’s department of education, went on Facebook and posted about his experience running into an anti-austerity protest on his way home from work that night.

“I got attacked by the Montreal cops tonight,” Waddington wrote, and went on to describe the alleged assault by a member of the SPVM’s riot squad. Continue reading Concordia Professor “Attacked” by Montreal Cops: David Waddington Plans to Launch Complaint Against the SPVM

Violence Erupts During Protest Against Austerity: Police Release Tear Gas at Nighttime Demo

(Originally published on December 1, 2015) A militant crowd of approximately 500 protesters marched in opposition to austerity Monday night, provoking a swift and aggressive response from the dozens of riot police officers.

The evening ended with at least one confirmed arrest, a small fire, and the smell of tear gas filling the cold nighttime air in downtown Montreal.

The demonstration comes after reports last week suggested the Liberal-majority government and provincial labour unions were close to a new collective agreement. Continue reading Violence Erupts During Protest Against Austerity: Police Release Tear Gas at Nighttime Demo

Opinion: My Way and the Highway (Code)

(Originally published on November 16, 2015) Every so often, I need to clear the seemingly interminable clutter that piles up in the form of books and documents on my desk.

On one such recent occasion, I came across a torn-open envelope containing a notice from the City of Montreal, reminding me that I will have to appear in court on an undetermined date. Continue reading Opinion: My Way and the Highway (Code)

Press Freedom – Montreal’s Independent Media Meets with Police

Members of Montreal’s independent journalist community met with representatives of the Montreal police force on September 21st at the SPVM’s downtown headquarters. The object of the meeting was to discuss the treatment of “non-mainstream” journalists by Montreal police in the past, and how we can improve the situation going forward.

The meeting was organized in conjunction with Tom Henheffer, executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and Simon Van Vliet of l’Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec.

All too often, journalists who do not fall under the banner of “mainstream” or “professional” are denied access, detained, or made the target of violent actions by the police while trying to cover protests. On Monday, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Commander Ian Lafrenière, head of the SPVM’s communications and media relations team, about this state of affairs. What transpired was a frank and constructive discussion about interactions between independent journalists and the police.

Lafrenière made it clear that the SPVM should not discriminate between different types of media, and underscored that he makes no distinction himself. He also admitted that mistakes have been made by individual police officers in the past, but emphasized his willingness to move forward.

A few highlights from the discussion:

  • Lafrenière pointed out that in an age of blogs and smartphones, it can be difficult to identify who is actually a journalist, rather than a protester with a camera
  • He acknowledged that some practices carried out by SPVM officers are not appropriate, such as ordering journalists to move into an area that is about to be kettled by riot police
  • The SPVM is open to establishing a line of contact with independent media members, so that they can reach out to the police force if they are ever detained or kettled during a protest
  • They are also willing to elaborate on the actions and behaviour they expect from journalists, to avoid misunderstandings or confusion in the field. A preliminary list of “ground rules” will be sent to the meeting’s participants, and we will have an opportunity to provide feedback
  • Lafrenière was open about the fact that change will not come overnight, and that both parties will need to commit to a continuing dialogue on this issue
  • Both parties agreed to meet again in the near future to continue this conversation

Although the results of this meeting are positive and encouraging in theory, it is important that they lead to meaningful change in practice. That being said, there was a consensus among those in the meeting – myself included – that there is reason to be cautiously optimistic. Lafrenière appeared to approach this meeting in good faith, and our exchange covered a lot of very important preliminary ground.

We look forward to continuing this conversation with the SPVM, and hope that it leads to better conditions for all journalists in Montreal.

Discussions on Press Freedom in Montreal

After being detained by the SPVM at a protest on July 24th, I spoke with several news outlets about my experience, and the state of freedom of the press in Montreal.