Today those occupying St. James Park in downtown Toronto were provided with an eviction notice by the City of Toronto. There have been clear statements from those residing in the park that they have no intention of leaving. Depending on how the city and police decide to enforce the eviction there is a distinct possibility of some form of a stand-off tonight or tomorrow. There is little to suggest this stand-off will be anything but peaceful.
I am optimistic that the police have learned from what transpired during the G20 and will exercise restraint in enforcing the eviction notice, especially since the legality of the eviction will likely be litigated in the courts this week. Additionally, absent overt criminal acts committed by the protestors, I’m not sure what the police could charge them with besides tresspassing under the Provincial Offences Act. The refusal to leave the park appears to me to be akin to a by-law infraction. I note however that there are rights of arrest under the Provincial Offences Act as well as the ability to hold individuals for bail.
Should there be arrests under the Criminal Code of Canada, there is already a movement in place to provide free legal support for the bail hearing process. This is similar to what was offered to those arrested during the G20.
UPDATE: A temporary injunction against the eviction has been issued by Justice David Brown of the Superior Court of Justice. His Honour stated that the status quo must be maintained until he is able to rule on constitutional arguments to be argued Friday morning. A ruling is expected by Saturday.
This blog post was written by Toronto Criminal Lawyer Adam Goodman. Adam can be reached at 416-477-6793 or by email at email@example.com.