[Hpn] Ontario's Finance Minister 'evicted'

Graeme Bacque graeme.bacque@3web.net
Tue, 12 Jun 2001 23:29:25 -0400


Jun. 12, 2001. 06:34 PM  The Toronto Star

Protesters sack minister's office

WHITBY, Ont. (CP) - The contents of Ontario Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's 
constituency office were strewn on the streets of this Ontario city 
Tuesday, as part of a ceremonial eviction by anti-poverty protesters.

His desk, filing cabinets, lamps and chair were carted out of his office by 
20 members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty in an exercise intended 
to illustrate their view that the man in charge of Ontario's books is no 
friend to the poor.

"This is an eviction of this man because this government is unfit to 
govern,'' organizer Shawn Brant said as he carted the furnishings outdoors.
"This man is being evicted the same as all other people are being evicted 
across the province.''

Flaherty staff members, who were obviously caught off-guard, tried to stop 
the eviction, yelling "bring back those lights,'' "put down that desk'' as 
the protesters defied them.

Police, including several members of the tactical squad, arrived at the scene.

Thirteen people were later arrested, although no charges were immediately 
laid.

With the furniture moved back inside, Flaherty called the protest and the 
effect on his staff "outrageous.''

"It's wrong,'' he said. "It's outrageous. It's not fair to intimidate 
people who are staff people. If they have a beef with a politician or with 
the government then there are ways of making that known.''

A year ago, a delegation of anti-poverty activists including members of the 
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, union supporters and homeless people 
converged on the Ontario legislature in Toronto, sparking a riot.

Complaining the Conservative government was attacking the poor with cuts to 
social programs, failing to provide affordable housing and imposing laws 
that crack down on the homeless, the protesters clashed violently with 
police when they were denied a chance to enter the legislature.

Dozens of demonstrators, 29 police officers and eight police horses were 
injured as rioters donned goggles to guard against pepper spray.
Some protesters were later banned from the legislature's grounds.

Ontario's Conservative government is currently making radical changes to 
provincial welfare policies. Soon, recipients will be forced to prove they 
are sober and not using drugs to collect benefits. They will also have to 
take literacy tests or go back to school.

The coalition issued a statement Tuesday saying Flaherty's "eviction'' was 
the first skirmish in "what will be an all-out war'' on the Ontario government