Protesters interrupted a press conference by Toronto Mayor John Tory on Thursday, causing Tory to walk off the stage.
The protesters, who demanded more protections for tenants amid the coronavirus pandemic, began speaking with a megaphone and walked up on stage with posters as Tory was giving remarks at an event with Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna.
Thursday’s event, which was held near Queens Quay East and Merchant’s Wharf, was to mark the beginning of a development project.
“I’ve had the courtesy to listen to you and to listen to your remarks and why don’t you let me finish my remarks here and perhaps we can talk about that,” Tory said after pausing his speech.
The demonstrators continued to speak and remained on stage, causing the mayor to leave.
“You are people that come and engage in violent activity in front of my home,” Tory said before leaving.
Earlier this month, protesters with the same demands clashed with police outside of Tory’s condo.
The protesters said they’re opposed to the provincial government’s Bill 184, which recently passed at Queen’s Park.
The bill provides a number of new avenues for landlords to both evict and collect unpaid rent from current and past tenants.
“Bill 184 puts more power into the hands of landlords and could speed up the eviction process for an estimated 13,000 tenants who will not be able to catch up on rent payments due to the COVID crisis,” a news release from the demonstrators read.
They want Tory to implement an “emergency eviction moratorium” to protect tenants during the pandemic.
Tory responded to the protesters in a statement issued later Thursday morning.
“I am willing to work with anyone who wants to constructively work … to help the residents of Toronto,” he said.
“I repeatedly offered today to meet with the protesters after the announcement to hear their concerns but they chose to continue their public protest instead and not let the event proceed.”
In the statement, Tory also directly responded to issues raised by the protesters and said while he disagrees with some of the changes in Bill 184, the City does not have legal authority to impose a ban on evictions.
“The City Solicitor is reporting directly to City Council with advice on the possibility of legally challenging those provisions of Bill 184 which undermine the rights of tenants to a fair hearing,” he added.
— With files from Nick Westoll and Erica Vella
From the start of the pandemic, I have advocated on behalf of tenants in this city to other levels of government on the issue of evictions and rent relief. I have successfully pushed for a provincial ban on evictions and publicly urged landlords to provide rent relief to tenants.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) July 23, 2020
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