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Ottawa bylaw hands out nine noise fines to pro-Palestine protesters, including Ottawa MPP

The City of Ottawa says nine fines amounting to over $4,000 were handed out to pro-Palestinian protesters under the city’s noise bylaw on Saturday.

The $490 citations were handed out to protesters under Bylaw 2017-255, which includes provisions that prohibit the use of “any sound reproduction device on any highway or other public place” among other restrictions.

Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden says he was given a fine at Saturday’s protest for using a small megaphone.

In a post to social media, Harden attached photos of a bylaw officer handing him the fine and a copy of the infraction.

“I love Ottawa, but I’m disappointed in my city today,” Harden said in a post on X.

“Using a small megaphone to advocate for Palestinian human rights gets a $490 fine?”

Pro-Palestine protesters gathered in downtown Ottawa for the 12th consecutive weekend since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7. Protesters are calling for a ceasefire in the continuing conflict in Gaza.

In a statement to CTV News from By-Law and Regulatory Services (BLRS), the city says verbal warnings are issued prior to issuing fines and takes every opportunity to educate individuals on Ottawa’s by-laws before an event.

“It’s important to note that enforcement during demonstrations is a result of escalated actions by the participants, which may pose nuisance and public safety issues,” said an emailed statement by director of By-Law and Regulatory Services Roger Chapman.

“As the activities of protestors escalated and became more frequent, including the defacement of property, the use of sound reproduction devices, smoke bombs, fireworks and threats towards our officers, BLRS took action to address these concerns.”

“Initially, warnings were issued to individuals regarding the operation of these sound production devices on highways or public places. However, when the activity persisted, fines of $490 were issued.”

The city says they respect the right for protesters to peacefully protest and acknowledges the importance of demonstrations.

The noise bylaw also came under fire last weekend after officers handed out over $1,500 in fines to protesters for using sound systems and megaphones. Organizers say they will fight against the citations.

In a post to Instagram, the Palestinian Youth Movement called on supporters to email city councillors and Mayor Mark Sutcliffe to push against the fines.

“Last Saturday at the 11th consecutive pro-Palestine weekend rally, City of Ottawa Bylaw issued almost $1500 worth of fines to protesters using speakers and megaphones,” the Instagram post said.

“This is despite organizers having used the same sound system for the previous 10 weekends of protests with no prior issues. This was a clear undemocratic, racist, and politically motivated move by the city of Ottawa to attempt to suppress and silence pro-Palestinian organizing.”

Supporters took to social media to condemn the fines against Harden and other protesters.

“This is an affront to our deepest and most important democratic values: the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” said Ottawa human rights lawyer Paul Champ in a post on X.

“A ticket for using a megaphone for a couple of hours on a public street to protest against a horrific war? Unacceptable.”

The city says those seeking to fight provincial infractions have 15 days to select one of three options under the Provincial Offences Act, which includes the option of requesting a trial.

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