Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will introduce “measures” this fall to force police officers to wear their full uniform after city of Montreal officers wore fatigues during the state funeral of former premier Jacques Parizeau on Tuesday as part of their continuing pressure tactics.
Calling the officers’ decision to don red baseball caps with their union’s logo and camouflage pants despite the funeral “a lack of judgment and respect,” Couillard told reporters on his way into a Liberal caucus meeting in Quebec City on Wednesday that the officers showed disrespect not only to Parizeau’s family but to their profession.
He did not spell out what form the measures his government will introduce this fall will take.
Police officers have been wearing baseball caps and camouflage pants, some of them in pink and other bright colours, as part of pressure tactics over the past year, as they contest legislation passed by the National Assembly at the behest of Coderre and Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume that rolls back pension plans for municipal employees.
Couillard called it “regrettable” that police chiefs have tolerated the rule-breaking on uniforms as municipal unions around Quebec protest the pension legislation.
Meanwhile, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he asked Couillard to pass a law ordering the police to wear their full uniform.
“Unfortunately, we had our police officers who decided to dress all wrong and behave all wrong, and they demonstrated they have no class,” Coderre said in a four-minute castigation of the Montreal Police Brotherhood and officers during the public portion of the weekly city executive committee meeting on Wednesday.
“Enough is enough. I asked the premier expressly yesterday (Tuesday), because if they’re not big enough to understand then you have to take them by the hand and tell them how to dress for a state funeral.”
The head of the Montreal Police Brotherhood should apologize to Parizeau’s family and to Quebecers, he added.
The union did not return messages to comment.
However, a union spokesperson told TVA news network on Tuesday that neither the city nor the police department asked the union to suspend pressure tactics for Parizeau’s funeral as they did when Canadiens hockey legend Jean Béliveau was given a state funeral in December.
The union said at the time the officers hung up their camouflage pants and wore full uniform for Béliveau’s funeral out of respect for the beloved hockey player, his family and his fans.
However, Montreal officers wore their camouflage protest pants during the funeral of Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte in April.
Outgoing Montreal police chief Marc Parent took part of the blame for the officers’ dress on Tuesday over the Police Brotherhood’s claim that he didn’t ask the union to suspend pressure tactics for Parizeau’s funeral, Coderre said.
The mayor said he had asked the Police Brotherhood “several times” to order members to wear their uniforms for the funerals of Béliveau and Turcotte. “I was told it wasn’t my business,” Coderre said, “that it’s the union that decided itself.”