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The Moment: the protesting class gathers at St. James Park for Occupy Toronto

The Moment: Dial-a-Protest

On October 15, 300 or so Torontonians pitched their tents in St. James Park and began their protest against corporate greed, income disparity and a whole bunch of other stuff they’re not happy about. Ostensibly, they were camping in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street brigade—along with the various other city franchises in the prolific new Occupy chain—but instead of the socioeconomic diversity of the Wall Street iteration, Toronto’s occupation was largely a gathering of the protesting class: semi-employed neo-hippies, G20 rabble-rousers, outraged college kids. The motley collection of signs strewn about the park—“We Are the 99%,” “Stop the Hydro Plant,” “9/11 Inside Job”—testified to a potentially fatal inability among the protesters to agree on one target for their ire, and at times, cameras and microphones seemed to outnumber activists. And then, the weather turned ugly, the news grew tired and the protest dwindled to a core group of diehards still camping at St. James, the faint whiff of hash in the air, waiting for the world to change.

(Image: Eamon Mac Mahon)

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Quoted: Doug Ford on why Occupy Toronto wanted to get evicted

An eviction notice on an Occupy Toronto tent at St. James Park (Image: Kevin Hamilton)

I think they’re tired of hanging out in the park.

That was Councillor Doug Ford telling CP24 why today’s eviction notice really isn’t so bad. According to Ford, apparently the Occupy Toronto protesters have wanted to go home for a while now, but thought it would look bad to bail on their comrades. Hearing their silent pleas, the city has given them all an excuse to go home to their jobs (assuming they have homes and jobs). We thank you on their behalf, Doug—because we’re sure you know exactly how the folks down at St. James Park feel.

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Occupy Wall Street is given the boot; Rob Ford follows suit by serving Occupy Toronto an eviction notice

Eviction notice from the City of Toronto (Image: Kevin Hamilton)

The city said it would make its move on Occupy Toronto sometime this week, and Rob Ford offered yesterday that the protesters at St. James Park would be given notice “soon.” But with the PR motive for playing nice with the protesters essentially evaporated—after other Canadian cities cleared out their own Occupy movements and, most importantly, New York City forced Occupy Wall Street protesters out of Zuccotti Park early this morning—the city decided the time had arrived to serve Occupy Toronto with an eviction notice of its own. Back in New York, there are already reports that Wall Street protesters will be allowed back into the park (albeit without tents and their belongings). But we’re guessing the last thing Ford wants is for the Toronto eviction to be temporary. Follow Toronto Now for ongoing coverage [Toronto Star] »

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Police squash brief Occupy Toronto camping trip at Queen’s Park 

An attempt by some Occupy Toronto–types to dodge an impending city crackdown failed when a small group of protesters set up camp at Queen’s Park this weekend, only to be given the boot. Sure, the provincial legislature may make more sense as an occupation site from a political standpoint, but the benevolence of the folks at St. James Cathedral makes the park a more practical choice. It sounds like the story is somewhat more complicated than a brief camping trip to the provincial legislature, too. CTV reports: “The men are believed to have been forced out of the St. James encampment by protest organizers who claim they are not affiliated with the bigger Toronto movement.” Read the entire story [CBC] »

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City contemplating washing away Occupy Toronto with a deluge of bylaw infraction tickets 

The city is poised to take serious action against the Occupy Toronto protesters next week—or it might just write a whole bunch of tickets. According to the Toronto Sun’s sources, one idea for dealing with the protest (and Joe Pennachetti says the city will be dealing with the protest) is to dispatch bylaw officers to the site. Naturally, Giorgio Mammoliti would rather the police shut down the protest entirely, but deputy mayor Doug Holyday is worried an eviction could result in violence. Why? Because, um, he doesn’t want the incident to be on the front pages of newspapers across the continent. Sigh. Read the entire story [Toronto Sun] »

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Quoted: Rob Ford says it’s about time the city asked Occupy Toronto to “move on”

(Image: Christopher Drost)

“They have had a peaceful protest. I think it is time that we ask them to move on.”

That was Mayor Rob Ford, speaking to reporters yesterday on the fate of Occupy Toronto. This is the most unambiguous comment we’ve heard from Ford since he said last week that he and staff were working on “a plan” to deal with the protesters. He also said he plans to meet with police chief Bill Blair, which offers a fairly clear indication of what he’s going to do.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to Occupy protesters: Time to ‘move on’ [Globe and Mail]

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Rob Ford says it’s about time Occupy Toronto protesters moved on—but can the city actually evict them? 

Mayor Rob Ford’s mysterious plan regarding the Occupy Toronto protesters is taking a while to hatch, but we do have some hints about where things may be heading. “Over the next few weeks, we will see an end to this matter,” Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said yesterday. Then, today, Ford noted ominously that “they’ve had a peaceful protest but I think it’s time that we ask them to leave. I think it’s time that we ask the protesters to move on.” But if Ford is indeed going to oust the protesters, things could get complicated. The Occupy camp is located next to St. James Cathedral, on a mix of city- and church-owned land, and one lawyer says that while the city maintains the “upper hand” in the situation, the church’s support for the protest might make things messy. Of course, the protesters won’t be easily deterred—a media relations officer indicated that there are “several venues in the downtown area” they can move if needed and the group will fight any attempt at eviction. Plus, we’ll wager that after they’ve received donations of generators, yurts, a professional food truck and portable toilets, there might be some legal folk willing to lend the occupiers a hand. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Destination Munkistan: A look at Peter Munk’s new Adriatic playground for the super-rich

The latest project of the gold magnate Peter Munk is a seaside resort and tax haven for fellow billionaires in the post-Soviet backwater of Tivat, Montenegro. A delirious tour of a world of champagne-drenched parties, supersize yachts and the recession-proof Ultra-High Net Worth Individual

Captain Fantastic: Peter Munk on his 40-metre yacht, the Golden Eagle, which has a full-time staff of five. (Image: Jim Ross)

Captain Fantastic: Peter Munk on his 40-metre yacht, the Golden Eagle, which has a full-time staff of five. (Image: Jim Ross)

There are birthday parties, and then there was Nathaniel Rothschild’s party this past July. The financier, scion of the prominent banking family and future baron was turning 40 and spent £1 million on the weekend-long extravaganza. The venue: Porto Montenegro, a newly developed luxury resort and marina in the Montenegrin coastal town of Tivat, on the southeast side of the Adriatic Sea. It was the sort of gathering that marks the end of an era or the birth of an empire—and in a way, for Europe’s youngest and smallest democracy, it was both.

Four hundred guests arrived at the village airport on private jets or stepped off the fleet of super-yachts that washed ashore from the world’s most glamorous tax havens—the Grenadines, Gibraltar, Grand Cayman. The attendees were described in the Guardian society pages as “200 ugly rich people and their poorer but more attractive partners,” or, as one guest more generously put it, “plutocrats and the women who love them.” A number of the partiers were so fantastically rich they could bankroll whole armies (which the birthday boy’s family, in its heyday, once did): Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (who arrived on his £70-million yacht, the Queen K); the wealthy Egyptian Sawiris family (who have embarked on their own Montenegrin development nearby); King Leruo Molotlegi, ruler of a tiny, platinum-rich part of South Africa, who hit the dance floor in a fabulous dashiki; British politician Lord Peter Mandelson; Jimmy Choo honcho Tamara Mellon; the historian Niall Ferguson and his Dutch-Somali partner, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a feminist critic of Islam. There was a healthy smattering of European royalty, as well as members of the Guinness and Goldsmith clans.

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Conrad Black offers (incomprehensible) advice to the Occupy movement 

Conrad Black rarely misses an opportunity to share his opinion or flex his sesquipedalian loquaciousness, so when Corporate Knights (“the magazine for clean capitalism”) asked for his advice for the Occupy movement, the erudite inmate was all too happy to oblige. In Black’s mind, the protesters behind Occupy—currently an “evanescent magic carpet for a gaggle of hacks, gasbags and kooks”—need to stop spouting “the usual, incoherent, sophomoric grab bag of populist grumbles,” consisting of a “rag-bag of simplistic liberal flummeries.” And even though Black criticizes their unfocused demands (you know, like everybody else has), his own guidance is pretty scattershot. According to the Lord, the cure for humanity’s economic woes include these (because Black has many, many recommendations): have the Occupiers band with the Tea Party “and other reasonably sane protest movements;” impose a tax on the rich that will be only be reduced once poverty is alleviated, thereby motivating the one per cent to fix the problem themselves (we’re not sure if this is brilliant or bonkers); legalize soft drugs; and, um, stop perpetuating the myth of global warming. Read the entire story [Corporate Knights] »

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Norm Kelly having trouble grappling with Occupy Toronto 

With the protesters camped out in St. James Park bracing for winter—and doing a pretty good job of it—Rob Ford said earlier this week that he and his staff are working on a “plan” for the protest. And because a simple plan to leave the protesters alone wouldn’t have taken this long to hatch, many are speculating that the mayor is looking at a way to oust the group. Now, the Toronto Sun is reporting that Councillor Norm Kelly, one the mayor’s allies, says the planning is turning out to be “more complicated than it appears.” He also said trying to understand and communicate with the protesters is like “grappling with smoke” (there’s something hilarious about the image of a right-wing councillor stepping into the ring with a waify opponent). More importantly, the cathedral that protesters are camped behind apparently “complicates things,” mainly because the occupation is spread out across both city-owned land and church property. Who would have thought that a 153-year-old Anglican church would become the guardian angel for a very 2011 protest? Read the entire story [Toronto Sun] »

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Rob Ford is working on an Occupy Toronto plan; meanwhile, a protester sounds suspiciously like George W. Bush 

If you’re curious about the fate of the Occupy Toronto protesters currently braving the cold in St. James Park, never fear, Rob Ford is working on a plan. The mayor was asked about the protest by reporters yesterday in light of a motion calling on council to endorse the occupation. Ford’s response: “We’re working on a plan with staff. We’re gonna have a concrete answer in a few days.” For their part, the 99 per cent seem a little nervous that the city might try to remove them, with one protester offering: “Either they’re with us or they’re against us.” The statement is surprisingly reminiscent of a certain American president and his own, decidedly less friendly occupations—an association those involved in the Occupy movement could probably do without. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Toronto Sun and Doug Holyday leading the charge to oust Occupy Toronto protesters from St. James Park 

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday has heard from people—both local residents and people who work in the area (oh my!)—who want Occupy Toronto protesters booted out of St. James Park. Of course, Holyday isn’t exactly a downtown councillor, and the protest isn’t even close to taking place in his ward. Meanwhile, the Toronto Sun’s editorial board is also calling for protesters to leave the park, and warning readers that “Aboriginal militants” (um, what?) are involved in the occupation. Now, what’s remarkable about all this (aside from the blatant racism) is that the Sun offers its unwavering support to Mayor Rob Ford in his quest for cuts, but then suddenly become defenders of public space as soon as it’s—ahem—occupied by a group with whom they disagree. Read the entire story [Toronto Sun] »

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Sun News’s Ezra Levant really, really likes to talk about Occupy Toronto

Image: Raj Taneja

What might be most remarkable about Sun News and its reporting on Occupy Toronto is that it can denounce the movement as irrelevant while simultaneously doing lengthy segments on it. Ezra Levant recently devoted 25 minutes to discussing the protest with Jacqui Delaney, who said all kinds of nasty things about the occupiers. Levant then did a follow up, commenting on the call-and-response tactic protesters use to amplify one another’s voices. He ignored the origin of the tactic (here’s an explanation) and instead offered that it was evidence of “cult-like behavior.” Levant’s guest John Robson chimed in with his own hyperbolic offering, stating, “I think we are seeing an outburst of rather alarming tribalism.” (The segment, headlined “Mindless Mob,” is filed under the Toronto Sun’s news section, by the by.)

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Joe Fiorito predicts activist baby boom after Occupy Toronto camp-out 

Joe “Have I ever told you kids about the ’60s?” Fiorito might be Occupy Toronto’s biggest fan among major media in the city. After dropping by the park to give the protesters a history lesson, Fiorito now has a bit of advice for them: start a credit union (like his Uncle Frank and friends did after the Great Depression). Fiorito lays out all the good reasons to do so: credit unions are democratic, members elect their own board members, mortgage and loan rates are fair and so much more. (And if protesters don’t want to start their own, Fiorito says they should at least join an already established one.) We appreciate Fiorito’s more positive take on the Occupy folks, especially when others are less positive. He’s even backing up his support with donations to the cause. But his claim that protesters, and the “frothy mix” they make while mingling in tents, will lead to an activist baby boom is a bit much. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Reaction roundup: local media have a difficult time saying anything interesting about Occupy Toronto

Protesters at Occupy Toronto (Image: Luciano Castillo)

The Occupy Everywhere movement spread to Canada on Saturday, with protesters setting up camp in St. James Park in Toronto, among other spots across the country. So far the protests have been entirely peaceful—unlike the displays witnessed during the G20, which some feared might be repeated. But without that kind of journalistic low-hanging fruit, the local media have focused most of their attention on how Occupy Toronto lacks cohesion or a singular message. We round up who’s saying what, after the jump.

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