Queen's Park Ban
Oct. 1, 1998: Seven people are arrested at a small demonstration in which water-soluble stage blood is thrown on the walls of the legislature to protest welfare cuts, cuts to battered women's services, and the murder of Dudley George. Five of the seven, recognized from previous demonstrations, are handed permanent, open-ended bans against appearing at Queen's Park and the Whitney Block. The other two arrestees were not banned.
Nov. 1998: TASC appeals to then Speaker Chris Stockwell to lift the unreasonable ban. Stockwell defies a Canadian Press reporter to find even 50 people in Ontario who would find the ban unreasonable. TASC receives over 500 letters from around the world declaring the ban outrageous. A letter from Margaret Atwood states, "This is not Stalin's Russia, Mr. Stockwell, nor Pinochet's Chile. You are not an absolutist dictator. Please, don't act like one. These tin pot antics do not become either you or the Province of Ontario." TASC also appeals to Lieutenant Governor Hilary Weston and then Premier Mike Harris.
Dec. 10, 1998: On International Human Rights Day, TASC, through an 85-year-old WWII veteran, delivers hundreds of petitions from students in Stockwell's riding along with some 500 letters protesting the ban. Stockwell says the ban will stand as long as he is speaker, and that he refuses to consider a process to lift the appeal.
Jan. 18, 1999, Martin Luther King Day. Faced with no other choice, the five banned members of TASC return with some 50 supporters to the legislature, with plenty of advance notice, to read from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and from Dr. King's writings on freedom. Despite a heavy police presence, no arrests are made.
Feb., 1999: Police show up on the doorsteps of the five, issuing them trespass summons. The five are delighted to be charged, so that the issue of the ban might be brought before the courts.
Apr. 1999. The trial for the blood pouring takes place in Toronto. Trespass convictions are registered. The five return to Queen's Park on the reasoning that they would have had a court-ordered restriction on going to Queen's Park lifted at the conclusion of the trial. They are told by police following them that they will be arrested if they set foot on Queen's Park. The Speaker's office issues an ultimatum: they must sign a vague letter pledging not to participate in certain types of demonstrations. Terming this an illegal prior restraint more likely found in China or Iraq than in Ontario, the five refuse to sign.
Nov. 15, 2000: Charges stemming from defiance of the ban, as well as a Charter challenge to that ban, are finally heard at Old City Hall court. Justice of the Peace Quon reserves his decision.
Jan. 21, 2001. The five are acquitted of charges for defying the ban. However, J.P. Quon says he cannot rule on the ban itself, which remains in effect unless the five enter Queen's Park and engage in what he terms Charter-protected activity. "It would be untenable for the government to use the law of trespass to quell the voices of dissent and the freedom of expression on state-owned property," Quon said. "The government should not wantonly use the law of trespass to evict legitimate peaceful protesters or stop their voices. This form of expression, expressing dissatisfaction with a government policy and publicizing a particular political view while on state-owned property is a value cherished in a democratic society and is protected by section 2(b)[of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms]."
Feb. 18, 2001. Police show up on the doorsteps of the five to hand them a notice that the Ontario Attorney General is appealing the acquittal. Thomas D. Galligan of the Criminal Crown Law Office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, states clearly that Justice of the Peace Quon "erred in law" by stating "the defendants expressive activity was constitutionally protected." Galligan writes Quon failed to take into consideration the doctrine of "Parliamentary privilege."
March, 2001: The Attorney General's office receives so many letters protesting this waste of taxpayer money, which many argue should be spent on fixing the problems at the root of the original 1998 protest, that it starts issuing a form letter thanking people for their concerns but declining comment on the matter because it was before the courts.
Oct 1, 2001: The third anniversary of the Queen's Park ban, still in effect, passes without comment. Any plans to mark the anniversary by the five at the legislature would be met with arrest and jail.
Sept. 2002: The Speaker, at considerable expense to the Ontario pubic, hires one of Bay Street's top law firms, Blake Cassels, to represent his interests in court. The five, whose photocopying budget of $40 probably represents a tenth of what one of Blake Cassels' lawyers charges per hour, find this most amusing.
Oct 1, 2002: The fourth anniversary of the Queen's Park ban, still in effect, passes without comment. Any plans to mark the anniversary by the five at the legislature would be met with arrest and jail.
October 2002: Due to technical difficulties, the appeal process is stopped, and the case is sent for retrial, scheduled for November, 2003.
October 1, 2003: Fifth anniversary of the ban. Any plans to mark the anniversary by the five at the legislature would be met with arrest and jail.
November 17&endash;21, 2003, Re-trial occurs. This time, the Ontario Speaker of the House seeks and gains intervenor status, represented by Bay Street law firm Blake Cassels
March 25&endash;26, 2004, Conclusion of summation, final arguments.
August 17, 2004, Ban lifted on eve of court verdict
August 18, 2004, Verdict Delayed Due to Potential Impropriety on part of Speaker's lawyer
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