13 March 2009


It's a funny thing to see these sights on the streets of Montréal: members of our police force not dressed in their uniforms. This had been going on for so long that I'm not sure that we actually notice anymore. We might, in fact, do a double-take if we saw them in full uniform.

The reason behind this is a contract dispute with their employer, the city. Their contract actually expired more than two years ago, which seems a little extreme to me, as well as irresponsible on the part of the city. Why would you let a situation like this go on for so long? Because you know that they can't really strike, so you think you have all the power.

Now the tactic started out with a simple change in the outfits that we have seen here before: jeans substituted for the uniform pants, red baseball caps with the logo of the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal (their union).

On those occasions that called for it, the baseball caps gave way to other headgear.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture of the bicycle cop I kept seeing last summer wearing his cycling helmet over his red cap turned backwards. Lovely.

Now I'm not sure if this tactic has had the desired effect. Yes, the city is outraged, but the citizens not so much. I stole the first picture above from the blog of someone passing through town who saw the police in jeans and thought it was cool. My personal reaction was to notice that some of the officers looked better and more comfortable in their jeans than others. I would even go so far as to suggest that jeans become the uniform, but we'd have to agree on a flattering style.

The jeans being too accepted and too little noticed, they moved on to something else.

The city, quite predictably, was beside itself with rage. So much so that they have kept trying — most recently this week — to have the Essential Services Commission rule this pressure tactic illegal. (They keep failing in these attempts; maybe they should just negotiate instead of trying to coerce.)

I have to admit that I was a little put off by the jeans to camo change, as it looked a little like we were being occupied by a paramilitary force.

But with time and lots of exposure, including exposure to varieties of camouflage I have not seen in nature (although not yet the pink version in my little checkerboard above), it's kind of growing on me.

After all, if you put a cute boy in relatively good shape into any kind of outfit, he will still be a cute boy, no?


For another point of view, here is the editorial cartoon from the Montreal Gazette today (Saturday, 14 March). I found it here and Aislin's (Terry Mosher's) own web site is here.

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