A media event held for the groundbreaking of a tower on the waterfront with Mayor John Tory has been interrupted by protesters who are demanding an eviction moratorium in the city.
The action, held by Parkdale Organize and People’s Defense Toronto, comes after Bill 184 was passed in the legislature and with a provincial eviction suspension scheduled to end on July 31.
Mayor Tory was in the middle of his remarks when protesters disrupted his speech and came up on stage.
Tory said he would speak with them after if the demonstrators allowed him to finish his speech. He attempted to finish, but was unable to.
“You can wait, we cannot,” the protesters could be heard saying as he attempted to speak.
Tory said, “You are people that come and engage in violent activity in front of my home,” before abruptly ending his remarks.
Watch: Demonstrators demanding eviction moratorium interrupt Tory’s remarks
The mayor eventually left the area surrounded by several police officers.
All three levels of government were present at the event, which was the groundbreaking of the T3 Bayfront on Queens Quay.
The group is the same one that organized a rally that led to Tory’s door step earlier this month. The protest began at Queen’s Park before ending up at the mayor’s condo building.
The protesters took over the press conference, calling on the mayor to do several things for tenants in Toronto, including using his emergency powers to enact an eviction moratorium and encouraging the provincial government to repeal Bill 184.
Cole Webber, with the Parkdale Community Legal Service, said they are also asking Tory to direct Toronto Police not to participate in the forced removal of tenants from their homes or people from homeless encampments and declare his support for all tenants who refuse to leave their home.
The mayor responded to their requests in a press release shortly after the incident. He said that he does not have the authority to impose a ban on evictions, but added he supports the idea that no eviction should take place without a hearing.
Tory also added the city’s solicitor will be providing advice to City Council on the possibly of legally challenging some of the provisions of Bill 184.
“I will continue to advocate on behalf of tenants and have repeatedly said I am concerned about people who are at risk of being evicted once the province’s ban on evictions is lifted,” read the release.
Several advocacy groups say Bill 184, also known as the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, would provide a number of new avenues for landlords to both evict and collect unpaid rent from current and past tenants.
The provincial government, however, has said the bill will help, not harm, tenants.
With files from The Canadian Press