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Montreal man fined for giving free hugs in Metro

In this November 2016 photo, Tommy Boucher stands in the Montreal Metro to give free hugs.
In this November 2016 photo, Tommy Boucher stands in the Montreal Metro to give free hugs. . Tommy Boucher

There’s a saying that nothing in life is free — and one Montreal-area man learned that lesson the hard way.

Tommy Boucher said he was at the Jean-Talon Metro station a week ago, when he was fined for giving free hugs.

Boucher said he was standing with his arms wide open, wearing his usual garb — a green T-shirt that reads free hugs — when he was approached by two Société de transport de Montréal (STM) inspectors.

“They asked me if I had a permit,” Boucher explained on his blog. “Surprised, I asked which permit?”

That’s when he says one of the two inspectors started flipping through the pages of a little booklet to find a rule that applied.

Boucher was fined $101 for contravening Rule 17, subsection II of the section VIII of law R-036.

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That law stipulates: “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. Under any other circumstance or in any other place, such activities are forbidden.”

Tommy Boucher was fined for giving free hugs at the Jean-Talon Metro station in Montreal, Tuesday Nov. 22, 2016.
Tommy Boucher was fined for giving free hugs at the Jean-Talon metro station on Tuesday Nov. 22, 2016. Tommy Boucher

Boucher has been giving out free hugs for a year and a half now and said it all started at the Berri metro station.

“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.”

Boucher said he plans on fighting the ticket.

“I do plan to contest the fine because I don’t sell or lease any services,” he told Global News.

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As for giving out free hugs?

Tommy Boucher giving out free hugs in the Montreal Metro.
Tommy Boucher giving out free hugs in the Montreal metro. November 2016. Courtesy Tommy Boucher

Boucher said Monday morning he was headed back to where it all started — metro Berri-UQAM, armed with his green T-shirt and open-wide arms.

Just to be on the safe side though, Boucher said he’ll stand outside the metro station.

Global News reached out to STM representatives who said they were looking into the matter.