Ant vs. Elephant (May/June 2007)

Retired radical cheerleader Rachel Engler-Stringer steps up against the City of Montreal


Ant: Rachel Engler-Stringer, 30 year old post-doc student at U d M, retired radical cheerleader

Elephant: City of Montreal

Beef (Engler-Stringer): In April, a Quebec superior court judge approved Engler-Stringer as lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the City of Montreal over wrongful arrest, on claims that her Charter right to assembly had been violated. In 2003, Engler-Stringer was one of 238 protesters mass-arrested by Montreal police while peacefully gathered following a raucous protest against the World Trade Organisation. In 2005, after two years of wrangling through the Quebec court system, the charges of illegal assembly were dropped by the City of Montreal. The class-action is seeking up to $39,901 per plaintiff.

Beef (City of Montreal): The city and police do not comment on issues pending before the courts. But in arguing against the class action suit, court documents showed the city claimed protesters did not meet the criteria for a class action suit: primarily that they did not consist of a consistent group, and that their rights were never infringed upon, possibly providing light into how the city will fight the case.

Politics (RES): Montreal police can’t be allowed to arrest first and ask questions later when it comes to the right of assembly

Politics (CoM): Montreal police need to be free to take action to preserve the "greater" security, and were working with what information they had.

Oh SNAP! (RES): "I am completely committed to going all the way with this since it is an incredible precedent to set. Police need to know they can’t get away with this," says Engler-Stringer. "It’s a success just getting this far and knowing that the city of Montreal has taken note of all this, and if they are smart they will. This in itself is a major victory; it shows courts will not allow them to keep doing this, no matter how this case turns out."

Oh SNAP! (CoM): While the city’s current stance is "no comment," Siafu was able to dig up this gem from Peter Yeomans, member of the Montreal executive committee in charge of public security back in the day. "Mass arrests are the way to go about it when you've got a situation that is headed for a full-fledged riot. I personally don't have any problem with (the policy) at all," he told the Gazette at the time. Yeomans has since moved on; hopefully so has the city’s view of the right to assembly.