Toronto, Ottawa camps fall to police backed by bylaws: The Occupy movement in Canada changed fundamentally Wednesday with the removal of protesters in both the country’s largest city and its capital. This follows removals of camps in Calgary, Quebec City and Victoria on Tuesday, and the threat of eviction hanging over other remaining camps. Toronto police moved in Wednesday morning to enforce the eviction order at St. James Park after making three loudspeaker announcements requesting protesters leave. Officers moved through the park from tent to tent, asking protesters to vacate the area. The central gazebo remains barricaded, with boards and signs on all sides, and a few people remaining within. ”Our concern is removing structures,” said Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash, noting people were welcome to convene and protest once the park was deemed safe again.
Police had arrested five people as of early afternoon. One woman was arrested for trespassing but quickly released; another was arrested after she interfered in the city’s attempt to take down a structure containing the camp’s “sacred fire.”
Onlookers estimated that about 100 police were massed at the west end of the park towards midday; supporters of the Occupy movement also gathered – chanting “we are the 99 per cent” – including members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation. Should protesters, some of whom have barricaded themselves into tents and other structures, refuse to comply, “I’m not going to speculate on what might happen,” Pugash said.
City bylaw officers taped pieces of paper, each with a letter and a number, to tents and structures. Occupiers started moving the contents out of a large central tent after volunteer facilitator Kevin Konnyu urged members to help prevent the group’s belongings from being damaged. A large waste truck pulled up on the park’s southwest corner, and city officials started to load it up with bags of debris and other materials from the Occupy site.”Fellow CUPE members, I am standing with you. Why are you not standing with me,” yelled Ashley Janice at city workers who were removing items from the park. City officials worked their way through the camp from both sides, disassembling the ragtag assortment of structures remaining in the park. “It’s unfortunate but it’s no big deal. We’ll be back,” said Brent Hendren as he beat a drum. Protesters intend to regroup and set up another camp, he said – possibly even in the same spot, at St. James Park. “This isn’t the end of anything,” he said. Shortly after 2 a.m. in Ottawa, police began removing tents and protesters from Confederation Park, which is blocks away from Parliament Hill and controlled by the National Capital Commission. The NCC had given the protesters eviction notices on Monday. Police said that while the majority of the protesters had left the park Monday and Tuesday, there were still about 25 people there Wednesday, blanketed by the cold of the capital’s first snowfall. Those who remained were told they could leave peacefully, or face the possibility of arrest.
Published Postmedia News: By Jordan Press and Megan O’Toole