On the Streets with OCAP

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On the same morning that Ontario Premier Mike Harris announced his resignation, roughly 2,000 people marched through downtown Toronto to protest the provincial government’s policies.

The rally, which was organized by the Ontario Common Front and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), was intended to mark the start of an “economic disruption” campaign against the Tories.

It began at roughly 5 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at Nathan Phillips Square. After listening to speeches the crowd — which consisted of union representatives, anti-poverty activists, anarchists, OCAP members and radicals of all stripes — assembled on Queen Street

Blocked by a double-row of police in riot gear, the crowd cut through Nathan Phillips Square, then back down University Avenue. Marchers proceeded to go on a lengthy walkabout through the downtown core. At various intersections, radicals dragged newspaper boxes into the street and set them on fire. An activist also tried to burn an American flag waving at the Royal York Hotel.

Most people in the crowd were peaceful, however — at one point, protesters even handed out flowers and placed them on the windshields of cars they were blocking.

The police, who were out in full force even before the march began, made roughly ten arrests on what they described as “weapons related” charges.

In addition to local activists, the rally attracted roughly 150-200 people from Quebec. Among their number was Jaggi Singh, who gained fame for leading anti-globalization protests at the Quebec City summit in April.

“A lot of people involved in the organization of [the demonstration at] Quebec City see Ontario as the cutting edge for neo-liberalism and globalism,” noted Singh.

With Premier Harris leaving office, however, it remains unclear how much of his neo-liberal agenda with stay in place.

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