Montreal: A City in TERROR / by charles desrochers

I was looking around the other day and saw this old picture from last year. Pictured above is the Montreal Police Department and what counts as a strike. In Montreal the police and other emergency services are not allowed to strike so the closest thing they can do is wear the flashiest and most ridiculous pants and take many sick days. How ridiculous?

And also this nice little number, I think he might be going to the polo grounds right after work. 

But why can't the police force go on strike? I mean the obvious answer is, "Because no one would do the policing, you moron." But the hippie dippy in me says that everyone would still get along, even without a police department. Turns out I'm very wrong about that.

 Either a riot or a killer sock hop.

Either a riot or a killer sock hop.

Let's go back to the fall of 1969, in which the entire year was labeled the Summer of Love for some reason, and go to October, the awkward morning after breakfast of love. Just as it is now Montreal was dealing with a fair amount of pressure from separatists who feel like Quebec should be its own sovereign nation but still use Canada's military because then who would protect them from Canada? The more extreme separatists had been planting bombs and such all over the city so the police force had been warn down to it's very last nerve with disabling them and making less pay than their Toronto counterparts.

After a quick meeting they strike and what ensues is 16 hours of hell on French Canadian earth. Almost immediately, looting and riots break out through the city and two rival gangs start shooting up one another, eventually leading to a rooftop brawl at the bad guys' headquarters. If this were a movie we would be talking about two crime lords fighting over territory and looking to seize the opportunity of a lawless town but since this is real life, and Canadian nonetheless, the two organizations in question were the limousine and taxi drivers of Montreal and their "turf" was the rights to pickup passengers at the international airport.

That's right, one of the bloodiest days in Montreal's history happened for the same reason your Uber driver can't pick you up at LAX. 

But while this mayhem is going on there's still an actual riot going on in the city and shop owners and workers had to fight off citizens from taking their livelihoods. This CBS report interviews a man and I just want to give him a hug because he's so sweet. During the night, people had been breaking into his store and stealing the pants and slacks from his tailor shop, which resulted in two adorably Canadian things: First is that he still locked the door despite the windows being broken; and the second is that when he ran into looters holding his clothes he politely asked for them back. His neighbor on the other hand stayed in his shop with a gun and had nothing stolen but when our shop owner was asked if he learned a lesson and will buy a gun he chuckled and says, "I'm not a gun person. Let them have it."

Meanwhile back at the Murray-Hill Limousine Service headquarters, a crowd of angry taxi drivers had formed and were breaking their way into the building. An emergency law was passed requiring the police to get back to work and soon there was a full on fist fight breaking out atop the Murray-Hill garage. Police attempted to keep the peace while the son of the limousine company, along with his security forces, were shooting blindly into the crowd that had formed at the base of the building like a seen from the Walking Dead. Soon enough the smoke had cleared and the sun rose, bringing an end to this nightmare and an officer lay dead on the garage, Corporal Robert Dumas.

In the aftermath of the riot the limousine company lost their monopoly on the airport and an edict was passed that says emergency services in Montreal can not take strikes. The Montreal Urban Community was formed so that Public Transportation and Police could be better regulated and abided.

So, if you ever see a Montreal police officer wearing crazy pants just know, they would be at home if it were not for the utter chaos that would unfold.