Whoop! Whoop! That’s the Sound of Irony

Police Union’s Righteous Stance on Tremblay Misplaced

  • Photo Paku Daoust-Cloutier

Last Tuesday, in an online article about the ongoing Charbonneau Commission, CTV Montreal shared a crucial, hilarious bit of news.

Montreal’s Police Brotherhood, according to them, was concerned. Reporting to superiors in a corrupt government—i.e. Mayor Gerald Tremblay’s Union Montréal party, accused of taking mob kickbacks on construction projects—was a big moral no-no.

Yves Francoeur, the president of the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal, called on the provincial government to take “corrective actions before the credibility of Montreal’s police force was damaged,” as CTV put it.

I’ll pause so you can wipe up whatever drink you probably just spat out.

Those of you who weren’t in Montreal this spring or summer might be forgiven for not being in the know, but for everyone else, it’s hard to imagine the remaining credibility Montreal’s police force might have that could be damaged by continuing to do their job in a corrupt, crumbling city.

Credibility, Francoeur? What credibility do Montreal police have, in your eyes?

The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal is the police force whose beatdown-heavy collaboration with Jean Charest’s Bill 78 was so human-rights-infringey that it got the United Nations’ attention.

The SPVM is the police force that let an officer pepper spray unarmed, non-crime-committing protesters without warning—on camera—and didn’t bother suspending her.

That officer—Matricule 728, as she’s become known—was shown to have acted in contravention with policing standards before, after she was suspended for six days in 2001 for grossly mishandling a 1996 trip to Sainte-Justine Hospital. (Note the five-year gap, however.)

She was at it again this past week, too, adding a beautiful little irony cherry on top of the weakening credibility of Francoeur and his police brothers.

Caught on camera—again—No. 728, real name Stéfanie Trudeau, caused a 20-car arrest scene when a man holding a beer outside the front door of his apartment building turned into a headline-making police-brutality nightmare scenario.

And the culprit? Suspended, not fired. As Sue Montgomery of The Gazette pointed out on Saturday, she’s been investigated and re-investigated over the years for violent, angry behaviour unbecoming of an officer of the law.

So what exactly do you have to do to lose your job as a Montreal police officer? As the Fredy Villanueva case proved, killing an unarmed minor won’t cut it, but apparently bringing massive shame on your badge won’t do it either.

As the Westmount Examiner‘s Toula Foscolos said in her most recent column, it’s time for an independent citizens’ commission to oversee police discipline. It’s a tough step for any organization to relinquish some of its own power, but people like Matricule 728 should not be wielding power—or night-sticks—in this town.

In any case, if they lose the power to let their own off easy rather than holding them accountable for their actions the way they aim to hold citizens accountable for theirs, they stand to gain power, too—the power that comes with credibility.

If Yves Francoeur was genuinely worried about the credibility of the police in Montreal and not just trying to throw political muscle around, he and his brotherhood should figure out a way to collaborate with the SPVM and outsource their discipline.

Until then, in the eyes of many Montrealers, the cops will be no more credible than the crumbling roads and bridges in this city.

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