MONTREAL – The head of a Quebec government-appointed commission looking into the 2012 student protests hopes his inquiry helps future demonstrations take place peacefully.
Serge Menard, a former public security minister, today kicked off public hearings by saying the events of last spring led to a crisis of confidence regarding police.
He says that, according to the information collected, the public seems skeptical about measures in place to take disciplinary steps against officers.
The raucous protests were staged against tuition increases by the former Liberal government, which were eventually pared back when the Parti Quebecois came to power.
Menard says the most dramatic events took place on May 4 in Victoriaville, when gas, chemical agents and plastic bullets were used against protesters.
That led to 250 ethics complaints filed against police. One protester lost an eye during the violent clash, which also saw some demonstrators beat a provincial police officer with a stick.
Provincial police officers were involved in 413 demonstrations which required $6.8 million in overtime costs.
Menard says that in Montreal, between February and September 2012, 532 demonstrations were held involving around 750,000 demonstrators and 34,260 police officers. There were 2,225 arrests by police. But there were also 211 complaints filed against police.
Montreal police operations required more than $17 million in overtime costs for extra police services.
Mario Laprise, the director of the provincial force and Marc Parent, the head of Montreal police service, are scheduled to appear before the commission