Your rights eroded by Quebec Court over handrail pictogram?


Imagine being roughed-up by police and then detained in a small, cell-like room in a metro station because you weren’t holding the handrail on an escalator.

It happened to a former UQAM student and she wants to take her fight all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

On her way to exams in 2009, Bela Kosoian was fumbling in her knapsack for change at the Montmorency metro station when Laval police grabbed her, put her in an STM holding-room and gave her two tickets — for not holding the railing.

An officer on the same escalator said she had to hold the railing, just like it shows on those little yellow pictograms affixed to all escalators. Kosoian said she was stunned and told the officer that it wasn’t “a rule” to hold the handrail.

The officer asked her for her ID and things escalated from there.

Municipal Court later squashed the tickets and said the officer had over-reached his authority. The issue now? Are pictograms considered a “law” and enforceable by police? The Quebec Court of Appeal thinks so, but it’s December 5th ruling was not unanimous.

Kosoian’s lawyer says the ruling sets a dangerous precedent and that’s why they intend to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“If law doesn’t obligation doesn’t exist, it’s for our rights, our human rights,” stressed Kosoian.

The STM security video, which is apparently supposed to be available for five days after an incident, was “unavailable” when Kosoian’s husband requested a copy the next day.

Kosoian smiled and said it’s easy to laugh about “pictograms” and the “Supreme Court,” but insists this case could have a serious impact on Canadians’ civil rights.

“It already creates jurisprudence and can you imagine if every user of the metro station is going to be forced to hold a handrail...or get a ticket?,” asked Kosoian.

Her lawyer cautions that this Quebec ruling could be used to justify unlawful arrests and detainments by police, not dissimilar to those that occured in 2010 during Toronto G20 protests. ​


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