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The doorway of the newspaper "La Clarte", a weekly communist newspaper, padlocked by the police in Montreal in 1937.

The Padlock Law (officially called "Act to protect the Province Against Communistic Propaganda") (QcFr: "La loi du cadenas" / "Loi protégeant la province contre la propagande communiste", 1 George VI Ch. 11) was an Act of the province of Quebec, passed on March 24, 1937 by the Union Nationale government of Maurice Duplessis, that was intended to prevent the dissemination of communist propaganda.

The Act prohibited the "use [of a house] or allow any person to make use of it to propagate communism or bolshevism by any means whatsoever" as well as the printing, publishing or distributing of "any newspaper, periodical, pamphlet, circular, document or writing, propagating communism or bolshevism." A violation of the Act subjected such property to being ordered closed by the Attorney General - "padlocked" - against any use whatsoever for a period of up to one year, and any person found guilty of involvement in prohibited media activities could be incarcerated for three to thirteen months.

The law was ill-defined, denied the presumption of innocence, and clearly denied the right of freedom of speech to individuals. There were also concerns that the law would be used in order to arrest individual militants from international trade unions. Two union leaders were nearly arrested in that period. [1] While it was applied frequently against a range of radical leftist groups, allegations that Duplessis used it against political opponents and groups considered undesirable, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses are incorrect, with the exception of the 1950 closure of the Montreal headquarters of the left-wing United Jewish Peoples' Order. The authorities used a different regulation to attack Jehovah's Witnesses. In the 1957 decision of Switzman v. Elbling, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law as unconstitutional.


  1. ^ Rouillard, Jacques (1989). Le syndicalisme quebecois : Deux siecles d'histoire. Montréal: Editions Boréal, at page 68. ISBN 2-89052-243-1

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