Châteauguay’s elected officials adopted regulatory amendments that can be invoked by police officers to enforce compliance with guidelines pertaining to gatherings.
Translation courtesy Amanda Bennett
The fines are more lenient than the $1500 tickets prescribed by the provincial decree. They are between $200 and $300 plus fees stated Mayor Pierre-Paul Routhier at May’s public city council meeting. The big difference is that the money will go into the municipalities’ coffers rather than the government’s, the city magistrate said.
A Broad Regulation
The Mayor nevertheless expressed reservations about the regulation’s wording. “I agree with it, but for a short period, for the period of the pandemic. The manner in which the regulation is worded, there could definitely be abuses. For example, when it is said that an individual must listen to police officers- if there are two or three of you and the police arrive and want to interrupt your conversation, you are obligated to listen to them,” Pierre-Paul Routhier noted.
He specified that as a lawyer he knew that the regulation was “very broad”. “Usually, penal regulations must be restrictive,” he observed. He stated that in the absence of the current pandemic context which prevails over all else, it would be difficult to submit the said regulation before a judge for approval.
The amendment obliges an individual to obey an order to leave the premises that is given by a police officer, a person in charge of a public place, a civil servant or security guard.
“Obey an order to leave the premises, what does that mean?” the Mayor questioned. What would happen in the case of two people talking in front of a house? he implied. “If I had personally drafted it, I would have mentioned a specific number of people,” Mr. Routhier clarified.
“And what does ‘leave the premises’ mean? If a person retreats by a few steps, does that mean they have ‘left the premises’? You’ll have to ask a judge, for the moment I just want to convey that the regulation is broad,” the Mayor replied in response to the Soleil de Châteauguay’s questions. “That fact that a police officer can intervene to break up gatherings is OK,” he specified.
Since March 27, the Châteauguay police force has responded to 388 calls related to the pandemic on Châteauguay’s territory. A total of 31 fines of $1500 were issued.
They were only given to those who refused to comply with police orders, Mayor Routhier specified. “If people left, no tickets were handed out,” he assured.
Police also responded to 127 calls in Beauharnois, 19 in Léry and 9 in Saint-Isidore. Of them, only one situation in Beauharnois led to a ticket being issued.