«On n’a rien volé (nous)!» «Libre négo!» Both of these statements are plastered on the side of just about every bus, police car, and ambulance in La Belle Province (Quebec) in a half-hearted attempt at gaining leverage in the renegotiation of pension contracts.
In lieu of strikes, which are banned among the so-called “essential” bus drivers and the actually essential police officers and ambulance drivers, they are violating the most sacred of all civil service codes: the dress code.
Yes indeed, bus drivers have been spotted in all manner of un-bus-driverly apparel, from athletic shorts to the white tank tops more at place in The Jersey Shore. This is a minor inconvenience for the passengers forced to regard the public transit conductor’s unseemly crotches and bulging biceps, though the public workers are doing so to protest Bill 3, An Act to foster the financial health and sustainability of municipal defined benefit pension plans. As you, the avid consumer of Canadian political news, surely knows, “fostering the financial health of [x]” is code for “making people pay more.”
The bill would make employees split their pension contributions with the municipalities for which they work evenly (50/50), more than what they pay now. While 50/50 may be respectable in a normal province/civil government, it is obviously far too burdensome on the proletariat in the Soviet Republic of Quebec.
Far more troubling, however, is that Montreal police are not satisfied with just wearing uncomfortably tight shorts; that is not enough of a statement. Instead, they have donned camo. On a Montreal metro last week I saw two police officers were wearing full body camo gear which, combined with their weapons and kevlar, is highly disturbing.
While public servants protesting the pension cuts using the limited methods accessible to them is obviously acceptable, police officers donning garb more reminiscent of soldiers is alarming, and not just because of a lack of conformity within the ranks. When police officers, the only men and women allowed to perpetuate violence in the service of preventing it, stop a violent protest and apprehend criminals, it is presumed that it is within the strictest bounds of neutrality and that they are interested in investigating the crime and assuring due process.
When they don camo, their actions take on a different meaning. The silencing of liberties, repression of anti-government fervour, and all sorts of notions entirely counter-productive to a protest against the government which employs them.
So Montreal police, feel free to protest! Your argument should be evaluated on its merits, rather than based on your dress. So drop the camo, and let’s focus on the issues. And bus drivers, we really don’t want to see that.