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Monday, November 21, 2011

Message to Occupy Toronto: The Occupation can continue if you just move your tents over a few yards

Mr. Justice David M. Brown rendered his Order today dismissing Occupy Toronto's effort to quash the City's eviction notice. It was an intelligent, well though out and lengthy (54 pages) Order that in essence, says the protesters are hypocrites and don't understand The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Rather than offer my own commentary, the Order is written in plain, straightforward language that expresses the basis of the dispute between Occupy Toronto and the rest of the community-at-large. Judge Brown starts by posing questions:

How do we live together in a community? How do we share common space? These questions have elicited quite different answers in different political communities at different times over the centuries. In our Canadian community we have crafted an understanding which has drawn on long strands tracing their roots back to both secular and religious sources. In the realm of political and civic relationships we have articulated.that understanding most recently in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter’s Preamble makes two points: as a consequence of the "supremacy of God", we all must bring humility to our dealings with our fellow citizens; as a consequence of "the rule of law", we all must live subject to some rules – we are not unconstrained free actors.

And based on the evidence reaches these conclusions: 
[9] Although proclaiming a message of participatory democracy, the evidence, unfortunately, reveals that the Protesters did not practice what they were preaching when they decided to occupy the Park. Specifically, they did not ask those who live and work around the Park or those who use the Park – or their civic representatives – what they would think if the Park was turned into a tent city.

[10] The Protesters now say, in effect, that the
Charter did not require them to ask; that the Charter sanctions their unilateral occupation of the Park– which they intend to continue for an indefinite period of time – because of the importance of their message and the way in which they convey it – by taking over public property. 
[11] With the greatest of respect to the Applicants and the Protesters, they are mistaken.
However, one aspect of the ruling that the media has neglected is this:

[18] The City of Toronto owns the Park, the western boundary of which abuts grassed land owned by the Anglican Archdiocese of Toronto as part of the grounds of St. James Anglican Church. Some of the Protesters’ tents and shelters occupy Church land. The Church has not sought to enter these proceedings. Accordingly, what is at issue simply is the validity of the Trespass Notice in respect of the City-owned lands.
The Anglican Church has expressed support for Occupy Toronto. Well, here's a chance for them to put their money where their mouth is. The large lawn in front of St. James Church is only a few yards west of the city-owned St. James Park.

Occupy Toronto could move their tents there, and unless the Anglican Church applies for a Trespass Order like the City did, the occupation could continue on Church property.

Now wouldn't that make things interesting? 

UPDATE: The Church has issued an Eviction Notice to the protesters too. It seems that despite "supporting their goals" the Anglican Church doesn't support the Occu-squatters to the extent of wanting to put up with their smell and bad behaviour.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The minister of the church stated on Friday that they want nothing to do with the protesters themselves, but support their ideals..

They've essentially washed their hands of the whole ordeal.