As masks become mandatory in Montreal, tensions in the province escalate

As Montreal joins the list of Canadian cities to mandate masks in some public places, tensions among those who choose to defy these rules are escalating.

Masks became mandatory for public transit on Monday in Montreal following a two-week grace period. Other cities, like Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary, have already begun similar orders.

“I haven’t seen people complain, people are wearing their mask, doing what they’re supposed to do,” one transit passenger in Montreal told CTV News.

While most have followed the new rules, anti-mask protesters gathered in Quebec City and Montreal over the weekend to voice their opposition to the mandate and to flout the public health guidelines with group hugs, among other activities.

During the Quebec City rally, two men without masks hugged a female reporter against her will while she was on the air, prompting widespread shock and criticism.

“An unwanted ‘hug’ is no less worse than an insult or threats,” Kariane Bourassa, the TVA reporter who was hugged, tweeted in French. “Women journalists shouldn't have to do their jobs by constantly looking over their shoulders to see if someone is going to enter ‘their bubble.’”

Quebec Deputy Premier Genevieve Guilbault also condemned the incident.

“You have the right to speak up, but you certainly don’t have the right to endanger the health of others,” she said. “We will no longer tolerate situations like this.”

Guilbault added that anti-mask protesters are spreading misinformation about the pandemic and could further spread the virus.

Tensions have also escalated among those who choose not to wear a mask in public, despite the guidelines.

Last week, a video from Montreal went viral when a man with his mask in his back pocket scoffed at a bus driver who told him to put it on, later prompting an altercation between the man and another passenger.

Still, Guilbault said it’s important to point out that most people are following the rules and doing their best to contain the virus.

"We can't let this minority divide us," she said.

Ça peut sembler rigolo.
NON, un "câlin" non-désiré, n'est pas moins pire qu'une insulte ou que des menaces. Les femmes journalistes ne devraient pas avoir à faire leur travail en regardant constamment par-dessus leur épaule pour voir si quelqu'un va entrer dans "leur bulle". pic.twitter.com/MU1ltPW57Q

— Kariane Bourassa (@karianeb) July 27, 2020

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