Ottawa Defends Quebec Bill 78 Against UN Critique
The Charest Liberals and Harper Conservatives have formed a united front to condemn a United Nations agency for criticizing Quebec’s controversial Bill 78 limiting student protests.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday she found the controversial Quebec law to be part of an alarming trend.
Pillay expressed her opinion of the Quebec law in a single paragraph of a long speech in Geneva, during which she lamented rights violations in places such as North Korea, Zimbabwe and South Sudan.
“Moves to restrict freedom of assembly in many parts of the world are alarming,” she said. “In the context of student protests, I am disappointed by the new legislation passed in Quebec that restricts their rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.”
Quebec Premier Jean Charest called it rich that the criticism came from an agency based in Geneva, a city with much tougher protest laws.
“It’s ironic … that they’re criticizing a law that requires eight hours notice before a protest and an itinerary, when in Geneva — where the United Nations office is — it’s 30 days notice that they require,” Charest told reporters at the global environmental conference in Rio de Janiero.
“So we’re not as severe as the place that hosts the United Nations. We’re more supple, and more permissive.”