On Saturday, the police in Canada cracked down on a large number of protestors, who had gathered at the Yonge-Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto against the rising unemployment and business closures caused due to Coronavirus lockdown imposed by the government.
As per reports, there was a heavy police deployment at the Yonge-Dundas Square, where anti-lockdown protestors were arrested under criminal charges. The anti-lockdown protestors took objection to the vague distinction made between essential workers and non-essential workers, who are not permitted to run businesses during the lockdown. Hailing their march as ‘Essential Exercise March’ following a Stay at Home order in Ontario, the demonstrators sang, “We are all essential” and hit back at the administration.
The protestors emphasised on their right to dissent but the cops responded by detaining them. In viral video footage that has now surfaced on social media, the police were seen disrupting the agitation, obstructing the path of the protestors and making arbitrary arrests. “This is assault, what these cops are doing, this is assault,” a protestor yelled. The scuffle between the police and protestors flared up the tension in the area, resulting in three arrests, including that of two organisers, for ‘common nuisance’.
LIVE in Toronto: Police move in on the anti-lockdown protest to arrest the organizer and remove their equipment. pic.twitter.com/UNLpbVWyeB— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) January 16, 2021
The police informed that a 22-year-old protester has been arrested for assaulting police personnel while 18 charges were laid against protestors under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Toronto Mayor justifies police crackdown
Amidst the imposition of lockdown in Toronto for several weeks, the economic conditions of the residents have worsened. Labelling the protests as ‘not right and safe’, Toronto Mayor John Tory said, “The police do what they have to do and I’m glad, even though I don’t give the direction to the police, that they wrote some tickets yesterday. I find it very distressing that someone assaulted a police officer. I mean free speech is one thing and assaulting a police officer is entirely different.”
He further added, “I understand the right to protest, but in my case they not only demonstrate contrary to the regulations that are out there, and they do the same outside of Premier Ford’s house… they also stop people from people from coming in and out of their homes in our building.”
Doublespeak of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau
While Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has been vocal about the ongoing anti-farm law protests in India in an attempt to appease the ‘Khalistani vote bank’ in his home country, it is important to note how the administration has been cracking down against those protesting against government directive on Coronavirus.
While talking about the protests in India, Trudeau had said earlier, “I would be remiss if I didn’t start also by recognizing the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning. And we all are very worried about family and friends; I know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you. Canada will always be ready to defend the right to peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we reached out to multiple means directly to Indian authorities to highlight our concerns.”