Unions can be sued for protest inconvenience

A judge has ruled that a 2003 blue-collar protest which tied up traffic downtown inconvenienced Montrealers significantly enough that they should be compensated. In a judgement on a class-action suit from Boris Coll, the judge ordered the union to give $1.16 million to charity (determining individual compensation was deemed too impractical).

Reaction has been mixed. The Gazette calls it a victory for regular people who should be able to travel freely without inconvenient traffic jams. Dennis Trudeau, meanwhile, worries about future protesters getting sued because their marches might cause traffic disruption.

Both sides have reasonable points, but I have to side with Trudeau. A traffic jam is an inconvenience, but there’s no constitutional right to free roadways. There is, however, a right to assemble, protest and express yourselves on political issues. The latter right should take precedence.

Protesters already wear masks and keep their routes secret because they fear police repression. Making these things actionable is just going to drive them further into lawlessness and make those protesters angrier.

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