Canada eyes mask-wearing demonstrators

May 8, 2012 at 10:27 AM
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OTTAWA, May 8 (UPI) -- Canada's federal government and two riot-stricken cities are considering making it illegal for demonstrators to wear masks at violent protests.

Alberta Conservative Member of Parliament Blake Richards announced his private member's bill Sunday that could result in five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000 for a rioter caught wearing a mask.

Beginning in June 2010 when masked rioters breaking from a demonstration against a Group of 20 summit in Toronto torched and smashed the downtown core, demonstrations have increasingly turned violent.

Last June, masked rioters led an alcohol-fuelled crowd of thousands on a rampage that caused millions of dollars in damages in Vancouver after the hometown Canucks lost the Stanley Cup.

In Montreal in recent weeks, students protesting proposed provincial tuition hikes have also been caught up in violence.

Monday, Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay announced a proposed bylaw that bans masks at gatherings police deem illegal, The (Montreal) Gazette reported.

Vancouver police said they favor a similar bylaw, although provincial civil liberties groups have already warned they would challenge it as unconstitutional, the Vancouver Sun.

The federal bill apparently has widespread support in the majority Conservative government, the Sun said.

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