Parades and some protest mark Canada's 150th birthday in Montreal
Police hold back demonstraters during a protest in Montreal, Saturday, July 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, July 1, 2017 3:18PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 1, 2017 5:29PM EDT
MONTREAL -- While thousands of Montrealers braved the rain to attend street parties and parades in honour of Canada's 150th birthday on Saturday, not everyone in the province saw a reason to celebrate.
Bloc Quebecois leader Martine Ouellet denounced the federal government's $500 million budget for the nationwide celebrations, which she said is double the amount that had been planned by the previous Conservative government.
In an interview, she pointed out the anniversary marks the birth of a constitution that Quebec has not ratified.
"It's surprising that Justin Trudeau is spending so much money to celebrate Canada's constitution when he doesn't even want to discuss it," she told The Canadian Press.
Trudeau has repeatedly said he's opposed to reopening the constitutional debate despite Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard's plan to launch a coast-to-coast discussion on the subject.
Ouellet called on the federal government to return Quebec's part of the Canada 150 budget, which she estimates is about $100 million.
"It's normal that Canada wants to celebrate the 1st of July, as Quebec celebrates the June 24 (Fete Nationale), but now we're talking $500 million," she said.
In Montreal's Old Port, a handful of protesters held a march to denounce what they call Canada's colonialist and racist policies.
About 20 people dressed in black threw coloured leaflets and chanted slogans as they made their way through one of the city's most crowded tourist areas, closely monitored by dozens of police officers.
In a speech, one of the organizers said there is no reason to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday due to way the country treats immigrants, indigenous people and the environment.
Montreal police said there were no arrests and no vandalism.
But in another part of town, Montreal's parade route was lined with thousands of spectators, many carrying umbrellas and waving red-and-white flags as they cheered groups of dancers who whirled by.
One parade-goer, who was dressed in red and white from head to toe, said he saw many reasons to celebrate Canada Day.
"Diversity and peace and minimum security, those are things you don't find everywhere," said Ziad Hammad, who wore a Canadian flag umbrella hat.
--With files from Roxanne Ocampo