THE BLOG
11/16/2011 02:08 EST | Updated 01/16/2012 05:12 EST

Time for Occupy Toronto Protesters to Pack it In

For all practical purposes the month-long long protest and park sleep-in is over. Patience has run out. Personally, protesters lost me when they began to agitate about the "sacred fire" they have in the park, contrary to park regulations.

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Now that the squatters (occupiers, protesters, campers or whatever you want to call them) are on borrowed time at St. James Park, it's worth noting that everyone has behaved in a surprisingly civilized and orderly manner.

So far there's been little in the way of vandalism or violence.

That goes for politicians, the cops, media and the protesters. It's not been a re-enactment of the G20 fiasco. Not yet, at any rate.

Although the campers (to give them a polite description) have been served with eviction notices, they've been given a reprieve until at least Saturday, thanks to injunctions and Charter of Rights hearings and the mumbo-jumbo of lawyers and the sober considerations of the judge.

No matter. For all practical purposes the month-long long protest and park sleep-in is over. Patience has run out.

Some campers insist they won't leave peacefully, that they'll have to be dragged out and/or arrested. One hopes not, as that will taint what thus far has been commendable restraint and responsibility.

For protesters to argue that they have a right to take up residence in tents in a park, contrary to city bylaws and common sense, just won't wash.

They've had their 15 minutes of notoriety, and now its time to retreat into relative anonymity until next time. And there will be a next time. It's too much fun, too comradely and too sociable not to do a repeat later on when some other issue can be manufactured.

In other cities, protesters or occupiers have been already been purged, with some nasty incidents and lack of cordiality. In New York, a couple of hundred have been arrested, but they've been cleared out of where they were camped, their tents gathered up and destroyed, the area "power washed" by city maintenance crews.

It's as if they never existed.

Looking back, it's kind of hard to see what the protesters were protesting -- and even more difficult to see what (if anything) they achieved.

In the eyes of some, Wall Street (like Bay Street) is still a centre of greed and commerce. The rich remain rich, the poor are still poor. Obscene bonuses and gratuities occur, but a reality is that it is rich people wanting to get richer who create the jobs through which the majority benefit.

In Toronto, the St. James Park occupiers have been pretty sensible and well organized in that they police themselves, try to control rabble-rousers, tend to sanitation, keep the situation orderly. Unions have helped with porta-potties, and food has been provided. Cops haven't interfered.

Some 13 leftist councillors think there should be a full council debate before the squatters are bounced. Why, one wonders? Debate what? Mayor Ford and his team have been unusually tolerant, but clearly the present situation cannot and should not continue indefinitely.

In fact the "protest" has morphed into a social and even ideological issue -- as seen with the arrival of First Nation activists. Wotinell is their concern?

Personally, protesters lost me when they began to agitate about the "sacred fire" they have in the park, contrary to park regulations. It's time now for a "sacred fire extinguisher" to douse the flames, and send the campers back to their homes.

The court will almost certainly rule against the campers. If they refuse to comply, well, we know what will happen. And a lot of tents will wind up confiscated and destroyed, and what up to now has been a peaceful manifestation will be obliterated by force.

Too bad, because up to now all parties have deserved credit.