Courts back Elites against Occupy Movements across Canada

TORONTO (Post Media) — Occupy protesters across Canada faced moving day on Monday, as officials yanked away welcome mats from the public spaces that have hosted camps for more than a month.

Occupy Toronto protesters received their marching orders Monday when they were told by a Superior Court justice to pack up their tents and leave the city park where they have been camping out.

Protesters in Vancouver who hastily moved their encampment to the provincial courthouse similarly received a blow when B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced the province will seek an injunction Tuesday to boot the camp from its new-found home.

The crackdowns came as Occupy protesters in Ottawa were handed eviction notices Monday afternoon, when police and federal officials told protesters that they would have to leave the park in the city's downtown by 11:59 p.m.

Occupy Toronto, the spiritual heart of the social movement, located blocks away from Canada's financial district, received perhaps the strongest blow to start the week, as Ontario Superior Court Justice David Brown found the City of Toronto was within its rights to force an end to the demonstration at St. James Park. Brown called the city's response a "reasonable limit" on the group's rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"If the protesters possess a constitutional right to occupy the park and appropriate it to their use, then the next protest group espousing a political message would have the right to so occupy another park, say, Moss Park, and the next group the next park, and so on, and so forth," the judge wrote in his 54-page ruling.

"So would result a 'tragedy of the commons,' another ironic consequence of a movement advocating greater popular empowerment."

The ruling comes three days after the city faced off with Occupy protesters in court, arguing over whether the sprawling downtown encampment was a legitimate manifestation of the group's charter rights.

"It is time for this to come to a peaceful end," said Mayor Rob Ford.

Const. Wendy Drummond of the Toronto Police Service said no decision had been made with respect to enforcement of the city's trespass notices, which request that all structures in the park be taken down and that protesters vacate the park between midnight and 5:30 a.m.

"We are in talks with the city," she said.

City manager Joseph Pennachetti said the city was willing to assist protesters with the removal of material, urging Occupy members to "co-operate and respect the court's decision.

Occupy Vancouver protesters maintained a tenuous hold on their occupied land Monday, after receiving news they were facing eviction from a protest site set up only hours after they were wedged from their weeks-old campsite.

Protesters dismantled their camp outside the city's art gallery Monday, following a 2 p.m. court-imposed deadline to clear the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza, only to shift their ongoing demonstration to a different jurisdiction, setting up camp outside the provincial courthouse.

Dozens of Occupy Vancouver participants carried their tents, both personal and communal, to the steps of the provincial courthouse Monday as bone-chilling rain poured down.

However, their stay on provincial land may be short-lived. Clark wasted little time in announcing that the province would seek an injunction "as soon as the court opens" Tuesday morning to remove the encampment.

"They're ignoring — in my view — the spirit of the court order," Clark said. "The spirit of it was that they should pack up and leave — not move to a new site.

The move did not happen without controversy, as police said a 40-year-old protester was arrested for breach of the peace after a fellow protester was assaulted.

Vancouver police spokesman Lindsey Houghton said in a release that a male protester is accused of assaulting an Occupy Vancouver peacekeeper, who stepped in to avert a confrontation with a Vancouver fire official. The protester was later released from custody.

In Ottawa, police and National Capital Commission officials issued eviction notices Monday afternoon at the Occupy Ottawa camp in Confederation Park, telling protesters that they would have to leave the park by 11:59 p.m.


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