The protesters were reluctant to leave the park they had occupied since October 15. Despite Judge Brown’s ruling, many insisted that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms permitted them to stay put. “I assume the Constitution will remain intact and we can stay,” said protester Gerald Parker. Julie Perrault, another demonstrator, was puzzled by Brown’s decision. “Evictions [of Occupy protests in other cities] were mostly deemed illegal.” Jim McDowell, a member of the Canadian Auto Workers’ Union, also argued, “The Constitution overrules [municipal] bylaws.”
Judge Brown evidently disagreed with the protesters. He argued that, although Occupy Toronto is a peaceful protest, the municipal rules against camping in the park are “reasonable limits prescribed by law” in compliance with Section 1 of the Charter.
On Sunday, the day before Judge Brown was to issue his decision, protesters still didn’t have a plan for what to do after their possible eviction. A protester named Hector said he was concerned about police brutality. “I’m ambivalent about staying,” he said, “but there are people [willing to be] arrested for all of us, and I want to bear witness to that.”
After being notified of the judge’s decision to uphold the city’s eviction order, protesters held a rally on Monday night. Although some protesters had already packed up their tents and left the park, many more gathered to discuss what they would do next. Union and First Nations representatives were also in attendance. The protesters chanted “Evict Rob Ford,” and one of the speakers stated that “Ideas cannot be killed by an eviction notice.” This was greeted with a roar of approval.
In private, protesters were not as sanguine. Hector was dismayed by the prospective loss of Occupy Toronto’s “culture of public discussion where anyone can have their voice heard.” Perrault said defiantly, “We can’t be evicted. The camps will stay. Location is not relevant.” David McNally added, “They are so so silly with their threats and their notices. Rob Ford is quaking in his boots right now!”
The protesters also proudly discussed their achievements. At the rally, a speaker announced, “What we have here is very symbolic and important.” One protester commented, rather cynically, “I guess what we got out of this is that we were noticed, though not necessarily for the better.” Others felt they had succeeded in calling attention to important social issues. “The 99% need a voice,” said Cammier Pierce, a union representative.
Yesterday, Occupy Toronto was shut down peacefully. CBC reported that only 12 arrests were made, and six of these people were soon released. Mayor Ford said in a press conference that Occupy Toronto would not be allowed to relocate: “The protest is over and I’d like to keep it that way. If they move to another park, they will be asked to leave immediately.”