Montreal opposition denounces invasions by protesters

Montreal’s opposition party is calling on city council to denounce invasions of stores and restaurants by protesters seeking to bring attention to animal cruelty or environmental harm.

A motion to be tabled in the next council meeting affirms the right to demonstrate in public spaces but deplores “illegal intrusions and vandalism committed by activists on the private property of Montreal restaurateurs and retailers.”

The motion follows recent protests by Extinction Rebellion at the Salon de l’auto and in retail stores on Black Friday, invasions of Joe Beef restaurant and a Costco warehouse to protest meat consumption, and vandalism at the Manitoba et Vin Mon Lapin restaurants.

“It’s not a question of judging people’s views,” said Ensemble Montréal leader Lionel Perez.

“We want to denounce illegal entries into private businesses in Montreal. That’s where we have an issue,” he said.

Some of the targets of such protests are small business, which already face challenges like high overhead and small profit margins, Perez said.

“They don’t need this additional obstacle to making a living,” he said.

Whether to eat meat is an individual choice and it’s not fair to invade businesses and terrorize customers and merchants, he said.

Last week, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion condemning invasions by groups protesting the meat industry and other issues.

PQ MNA Sylvain Roy proposed the motion, pointing to restaurant and store invasions, as well as a protest staged in a pork farm in St-Hyacinthe in December.

Perez said he hopes Montreal city council will follow the government’s example by denouncing such protests.

“If they want to demonstrate on public land, that’s their business,” he said.

But invasions are “not an acceptable form of demonstration,” he added.

Councillors will vote on the motion at the next meeting, which starts Feb. 24