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Unions seek intervenor status to protect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at the University of Toronto protests

May 29, 2024

May 29, 2024

Two of the largest unions in the province and the largest unions at the University of Toronto are seeking to intervene in the injunction application by the university against demonstrations.

The United Steelworkers union (USW) and OPSEU/SEFPO are seeking intervenor status in the injunction application by the university which would allow administrators to end protests. The unions are working together to protect the freedom of expression and freedom of association by workers at the university.

“We will defend workers’ right to their freedom of expression. The university cannot deny workers or students their rights as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because they are inconvenient,” said Myles Sullivan, USW District 6 Director (Ontario and Atlantic region).  “We will defend the right to protest on public property, like the University of Toronto and ensure Charter rights are not trampled. As far as we are concerned, the protest has the right to stay and workers have the right to participate.” The USW represents 10,000 workers at the University of Toronto as well as workers at other University campuses.

“University campuses are precisely the places where our community debates the most pressing issues of the day. Above all, it’s where we find common ground, and if necessary, we disagree, but we do so without violence” said JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO. “So to threaten to forcibly remove a peaceful encampment which is simply an expression of political opinion, where students and workers and other members of the University community are asserting their Charter rights – is an abdication of the University’s very reason for existence.”

“A ruling like this has the potential to threaten the Charter protected right to the freedom of association (Section 2 (d)) so we take this very seriously indeed,” concluded Hornick. OPSEU/SEFPO represents workers on the University of Toronto campus as well as workers on other University campuses and also represents workers on every public college campus in Ontario.

For more information, please contact:

Shannon Devine, USW Communications 416-938-4402 sdevine@usw.ca

Kim Johnston, OPSEU/SEFPO Communications 416 550 4665 kjohnston@opseu.org

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