No Arrests at Anti-Grand Prix Rally

First CLAC Protest Not to be Declared Illegal This Year

The bike protest against the Grand Prix on June 7 was the first organized by the CLAC this year without arrests. Photo Erin Sparks.
The bike protest against the Grand Prix on June 7 was the first organized by the CLAC this year without arrests. Photo Erin Sparks.

Approximately 60 protesters took to the street on bicycles in a mobile demonstration against Montreal’s annual Formula One Grand Prix race this weekend.

Organized by the Anti-capitalist Convergence, the bike-mounted protest was aimed at disrupting Grand Prix weekend.

Two groups began their ride at 5:30 p.m. in Laurier Park and Hochelaga Park, the group made their way through the Plateau and downtown where numerous streets are blocked off to accommodate the weekend-long car race.

Unlike many recent protests in the city, it was not declared illegal and there were few altercations between demonstrators and police.

The protest followed traffic rules and the police presence was mostly used to ensure the safety of both cyclists and motorists.

“[We are taking to] the streets to remind capitalist promoters and race car enthusiasts that the city belongs to those who live in it,” said Nicolas Lanoue-Larue, spokesperson for the CLAC.

In an interview with The Link, Lanoue-Larue explained that he sees a lot dissent surrounding the Grand Prix.

“Politicians and the business community would like everybody to think there is consensus on the Grand Prix because of the money it brings into the community, but there are a lot of people who do not agree with having the Grand Prix here every year with the public money that goes into it,” he said.

After being removed for a year from the Formula One circuit in 2008, an agreement between government officials and the F1 guaranteed $10 million in contributions over five years from the three levels of government in exchange for a 30 per cent share of the race’s ticket sales.

Tourism Montreal, a privately-owned conglomerate of city businesses and other groups in the tourism industry, also contributes $5 million annually.

Economic returns for city businesses during the racing weekend in 2007 were estimated at $74 million, according to reports by ING bank.

Demonstrations last year at the Grand Prix, largely in conjunction with the student strike, were marred by arrests and violence, with storefronts and police cruiser windows being destroyed by a small number of protesters. Then-Premier Jean Charest openly condemned the CLAC protests.

CLAC has also been at the forefront of several other demonstrations in the past few months, primarily to denounce municipal bylaw P-6, which the organization says is illegally restricting rights to free expression and assembly.

In amendments last year, the bylaw was expanded to grant police powers to declare protests illegal if no route is provided to police within 24 hours of any demonstration on public land.

At least 700 people have been arrested in violation of the bylaw since March.

Another demonstration by the anti-capitalist organization is planned for Monday, according to Lanoue-Larue, in protest of the International Economic Forum of the Americas, which holds its annual conference in Montreal next week.