Quebec is now officially under a curfew.
The extraordinary measure, the first of its kind in Canada, was first announced by Premier Francois Legault earlier this week. Citing the exploding number of COVID-19 cases in the province and the extreme stress its placing on the healthcare system, Legault said the curfew would extend until at least Feb. 8.
The curfew has few exceptions, is in effect in almost all of the province, and requires residents to be in their homes from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. each night.
But with the curfew now in effect, some Montreal residents and advocates are worried over how it will be enforced in some parts of the city.
“We know that police attention is disproportionately focused on certain populations and certain neighbourhoods,” said Cara Zwibel, a lawyer for the Canadian Civil Liberty Association. “It tends to be people who are socio-economically disadvantaged, racialized people, Indigenous that are the target of greater scrutiny by the police.”
Mary Deros, city councillor for Parc Extension, tried to reassure her constituents, many of whom live in high-density housing and are on shift work, that they will not be targetted.
“They do have some concerns, like what if they’re working. Well, if you’re working, if you have a night shift, if you’re out for the proper reasons, the police will not harass you,” she said. “They’ve been asked not to give tickets to the homeless.”
But Naveed Hussain, who works as a nurse, said she’s worried the curfew will lead to overzealous ticketing and arbitrary stops that will target racial minorities.
“As a Person of Colour, I think we’ve all had experiences where we’ve had to be spoken to by the police and we’ve had to handle certain situations,” she said. “What I believe right now, with regards to the crisis, is that there’s more of an understanding that we’re all front-line workers. As long as we have identification, we have proof that we’re working in the establishments in order to help society and help others, it should be fine.”