POLITICS

Police in Montreal-area town dress up as sheriffs as part of pension protest

11/14/2014 05:53 EST | Updated 01/14/2015 05:59 EST
CHATEAUGUAY, Que. - There's a new sheriff in town in Montreal-area Chateauguay.

In fact, there are several dozen of them.

Police officers in the community south of Montreal have taken to dressing up as lawmakers with a different look, replete with cowboy-style boots and hats.

The garb is in protest against provincial pension legislation aimed at establishing a 50-50 split between municipalities and unionized workers on contributions and future deficits.

Municipal employees like police officers, firefighters, public transit and other blue- and white-collar workers have been dressing down across the province for months.

Montreal police, for example, have donned bright red ball caps and shed their work-issue slacks for camouflage, fluorescent and multi-coloured pants to show their anger.

Meanwhile, city vehicles, public transit buses, police and fire trucks have been plastered with slogan stickers in dozens of towns.

The Liberal government introduced its proposal to overhaul the municipal pensions in mid-June, saying those plans carry a collective deficit of about $3.9 billion and aren't sustainable in the long-term.

The bill proposes freezing the automatic indexation of pensions for about 20,000 workers already retired and sets out a timeline for negotiating a settlement, including possible arbitration.

Premier Philippe Couillard's government says it wants Bill 3 adopted by year's end.