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Housing Activists Return to Mayor Tory’s Condo to Protest Mass Evictions


It looks like tenants and lawyers have returned to Mayor John Tory’s condo building, though, this time, the groups are responding to the Mayor’s claims that he is powerless to stop mass evictions.

Ahead of Tuesday’s gathering near Bloor Street and Bedford Road, Mayor Tory reminding the public that he has no power in banning evictions and that the issue is a provincial matter, as he does not have any control over the provincial Residential Tenancies Act.

“My authority, even during the emergency, only extends to things the city council itself could do during times when it is meeting,” Mayor Tory said on Monday. “I don’t have some magical powers, I wish sometimes that I did.”

READ: Bill 184 Becomes Law in Ontario, Ford Government Says It Protects Tenants From Evictions

The group is calling on the mayor to do something about evictions in Toronto and a provincial bill that they say would make it easier for landlords to evict tenants. However, the Ford government claims the act will better protect people facing eviction during the pandemic by increasing fines for unlawful evictions and push landlords to establish repayment agreements with tenants before considering evictions.

Critics say the new law actually weakens tenants’ rights and Toronto-based Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA) says it opposes Bill 184 because the law deprives tenants of a “key safety net that protects them from eviction” and called it “a cruel attack on vulnerable tenants in a time of historic need.”

During Tuesday’s press conference outside of Tory’s home, Lawyer Parmbir Gill said, “John Tory doesn’t have to resort to magic to stop mass evictions. He has the emergency power to ban evictions.”

“A municipal eviction ban is only limited in that it cannot be contrary to law. The purpose of the Residential Tenancies Act is to protect tenants from eviction, not to facilitate mass evictions during a pandemic,” continued Gill.

The speakers in attendance, which included tenants who are also organizers, lawyers, and Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) workers, spoke about how the City can put an end to the eviction crisis.

“When it comes to the people directly facing this crisis, they’ve shown you what they’re willing to do. They’ve become full-time door-knockers, researchers, banner makers, and political analysts. They’ve risked evictions and arrests to ensure their voices are heard,” said Sam Nithiananthan from Peoples Defence.

“And even tenants who can afford to pay their rent have stood next to their neighbours who can’t. Our neighbourhoods will fight by any means necessary. If that takes us standing in front of tenants doors to ensure that no Sheriff evicts our neighbours we are more than willing to do that. But what about the people who are paid, who are mandated to defend the residents of this city? what is City council going to do? What is Mayor John tory willing to do? How many evictions are acceptable for them?”

When asked by a reporter what the next steps are for tenants if Mayor Tory refuses to act on mass evictions, Nithiananthan said, “there are hundreds of tenants that support us and communities across the city that support us. If the city does nothing, we’re not going to wait for our saviours to come through, what we’re going to do is stand up for ourselves.”

Currently, residential evictions are on hold in Ontario amid the pandemic.

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