Quebec City police make 3 arrests during protest against pandemic measures

Quebec City police have made three arrests as protesters stage the second demonstration in two weeks near the National Assembly in Quebec City demanding an immediate end to all pandemic measures in the province.

The city’s police force, the SPVQ, announced the arrests via Twitter just before noon Saturday. Police have not released details of the arrests, which they say occurred “on the outskirts” of the protest.

“The majority of protesters are respecting and honoring their agreement to protest peacefully,” police wrote.

Demonstrators, some of whom arrived in convoys from regions such as Beauce and Saguenay, began gathering in large numbers outside the National Assembly this morning around 11 a.m., honking their horns and carrying signs criticizing politicians and calling on the government to put end to pandemic measures .

The demonstrators begin to invade the streets around the National Assembly. (Emilie Warren/CBC News)

Despite Quebec government announcements that it plans to phase out the vaccination passport and lift most pandemic measures by mid-March, protesters say the government must go further in removing restrictions .

“Why are we going to Quebec? Because they want to suspend the vaccination passport only until the next wave [of COVID-19]“, declared an organizer, Kevin Grenier, in an interview with The Manic, a local weekly in Baie-Comeau.

Beauceron Jérémie Sarrazin arrived in Quebec City after participating in protests in Ottawa over the past three weekends. He says he’s here because he’s fed up with continued public health measures.

“Kids in school with masks and stuff, we can’t take it anymore,” he said, also calling for an immediate end to vaccination mandates.

“It has to stop now. People have to wake up and normal life has to resume,” Sarrazin said.

Organizers are also calling for an end to the health emergency, first declared at the start of the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020.

A Quebec police officer speaks with the occupants of a truck on René-Lévesque Boulevard in Quebec City, near the National Assembly. Protesters are back in the city for the second time in two weeks to demand an end to pandemic measures. (Radio Canada/Josh Grant)

More police powers

City trucks are again used to block access to certain streets around the National Assembly.

The portion of Honoré-Mercier Boulevard between Grande Allée and René-Lévesque Boulevards was closed to prevent motorists from accessing the area in front of the assembly.

La Grande Allée is also pedestrian only between rue de Claire-Fontaine and boulevard Honoré-Mercier.

A truck parking area has been established on René-Lévesque between Honoré-Mercier and Claire-Fontaine, as agreed with the organizers, the Quebec City Police (SPVQ) said in a statement. Tweeter.

“Any further parking elsewhere will not be tolerated and will result in a police response,” police said.

Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand says the SPVQ has “prepared for all possibilities” and is confident the protest will go off without a hitch.

“We are preparing for the worst, but we hope for the best,” Marchand told Radio-Canada on Saturday morning.

“We have all the tools to make sure it will be a correct and compliant demonstration.”

A row of trucks lines René-Lévesque Boulevard as demonstrators head for the National Assembly, to demand an end to pandemic measures. (Radio Canada/Josh Grant)

Ahead of this weekend’s protest, Marchand decided to give police more powers to “act instead of react”.

The city’s executive committee passed two new bylaws: one giving police the power to control traffic, parking and street closures in the city, and another reinstating the ban on cooking in outdoors and to consume alcohol in parks and public spaces.

“As we do for each demonstration, we will have a certain tolerance, as long as the smooth running of the demonstration is not compromised,” declared André Turcotte, deputy director of the SPVQ.

Many agents in yellow vests patrol around the National Assembly.

During the weekend of demonstrations two weeks ago, the SPVQ also made three arrests and towed a vehicle. They also handed out 48 parking tickets, 50 tickets for by-law violations and 72 for violations of traffic laws.

Quebec police say they will respect the right of demonstrators to protest against public health measures, but specify that “no vandalism or criminal offense will be tolerated”.

The protest comes after Ottawa police intervened yesterday to arrest protesters who were taking part in a three-week occupation of downtown.

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