Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says the police should be called in to force Occupy Toronto protesters to leave their makeshift camp in the city’s downtown.
Mr. Hudak threw his support behind Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who also said last week that it is time for the protesters to leave their makeshift camp. But he appeared to go further than the mayor, who did not provide details of how he plans to end the weeks-long protest at St. James Park.
“I just don’t believe anybody has a right to permanently occupy a public park,” Mr. Hudak told reporters on Monday, adding that he would support Mr. Ford if the city decides to call in the police. “They got their message out there,” he said. “It’s time for the protest to come to an end.”
Mr. Hudak is the only provincial leader in Ontario who has spoken out against a protest movement that is facing mounting challenges as it enters its fourth week in several Canadian cities.
The encampment in Vancouver has been rocked by the death of a woman from a drug overdose, as well as a violent confrontation between police and protesters. The city’s bid to end the protest has been stalled in court, attracting growing animosity from local businesses and residents.
Police in London, Ont., cleared out the protesters last Wednesday, and authorities in Victoria and Calgary are also preparing to take action.
In Toronto, city officials say they visit the encampment of about 100 tents daily and have found no health and safety issues. But local merchants complain business is suffering as people are steering clear of the area.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has said he is leaving it up to local government to decide how to handle the protest.
New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath said police should not be called in to end the protest. The movement, she told reporters on Monday, provides an opportunity for people “who feel like they’ve been left out of the equation” to have a voice in uncertain economic times.