Montreal, CA — A well-intentioned and kind-hearted man is learning the cold and callous nature of the state after he was fined $101 for offering free hugs to voluntary recipients.
Tommy Boucher was at the Jean-Talon Metro station in Montreal last week when he was approached and fined for an act that is completely legal between two individuals.
Two Société de transport de Montréal (STM) inspectors approached Boucher as his arms were open, wearing his usual attire — a green shirt that read, ‘free hugs.’
“I was arms open wearing my green free hugs t-shirt offering free hugs to the passers-by and two STM inspectors approached me asking me if I had my permit,” Boucher wrote on his blog.
When he asked which permit they were referring to, the inspectors pulled out a tiny book and began thumbing through it in a seemingly desperate attempt to find something wrong with Boucher’s behavior.
“He ended up giving me the fine for the Rule 17, Subsection II of the Section VIII of law R-036,” Boucher explained. Which state the following: ’17. In a metro station, after obtaining the authorisation of the Société, it is permitted to offer for sale or lease services or merchandise, or to exhibit or distribute such services or merchandise, subject to the other restrictions in the present By-law.’
According to Boucher, he’s been giving out free hugs for over a year now and this is the first time he’s ever been fined for it — perhaps a sign of the times.
“I had a bad morning and I met someone who was giving free hugs and I decided to take it,” he said. “This guy changed it. It’s all I needed to get a good day.”
The good news is Boucher plans on fighting the ticket as it is hardly legitimate.
“I do plan to contest the fine because I don’t sell or lease any services,” he told Global News.
Equally good news is that the fine did nothing to stop Boucher from spreading his love. On Monday morning, this caring and brave man headed right back out to the metro station, donning his green t-shirt and his arms open.
He isn’t pushing his luck, however. He told Global News that he plans on standing just outside the metro station — so as not to be extorted.
“I know these guys have the mission to keep the peace in the subway… but when they give a ticket to those who actually are in peace, where is the world going?” Boucher poignantly explained.