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You said it: Should protesters have the right to wear masks?

Protesters opposing Quebec student tuition fee hikes bang on pots and pans during a demonstration in Montreal, Thursday, May 24, 2012.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

We asked readers for their views in the wake of a new bill from Ottawa that bans protesters from covering their faces. Here's some of the responses:


Yes, protesters have a right to be masked. People, when fearful, are often quick to sacrifice the rights of others. Under this law, people could be arrested for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Our focus should be to punish those who DO commit crimes, not to harass the innocent. This law would be another step in the continued erosion of our freedom.

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Rick Jolly, Ladysmith, B.C.

As a student at McGill, I marched in many of the protests last spring in Montreal. Protesters sometimes need to wear ski goggles and helmets to protect themselves from heavy-handed police tactics on completely peaceful protests and protesters.

Noteh Krauss, Montreal

Disallowing protesters the ability to wear masks, I feel will discourage many from participating in an activity which is a very large part of a healthy democracy.

Adam Clemens, Kitchener, Ont.

How does this new law account for Canadian cold weather or religious articles such as the niqab? Are we no longer free to voice our concerns in the winter or to voice are concerns if we belong to certain religions?

Marc Spooner, Regina

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I think it's important that anyone seeking to participate in public discourse, which includes demonstrations, should be expected to ensure they are identifiable.  That means show your face and give your name if asked.  Democracy must be open and transparent at all times and for all participants.  At the same time, police officers' badge numbers must also be fully visible.

Richard Gregson, Baie d'Urfe, Que.

The law should also make punishable by a similar penalty the concealing of identity by law enforcement officers. Identities should be revealed on both sides, or neither.

Ajay Widge, Greater Toronto Area

I think it is the right thing to do.  If you riot against something, you should own own it, you should let people around you and at a distance know what you think of the issue.

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Leith Nance, Nanoose Bay, B.C.

They obviously intend to do something that they know is wrong or against the law, otherwise they would not cover their face.

Dave MacKay, Port Carling, Ont.

No, and no. Would you allow any person to wear a mask that enters a bank regardless of his/her intentions?

Ed Sehn, Medicine Hat

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