Next steps for U of T encampment

So a poll by Leger this month found that nearly half, or 48% of Canadians are opposed to pro Palestinian encampments at Canadian universities, and 44% think the encampments should be dismantled. Of course, this is all happening while the University of Toronto has filed a court injunction on Monday to remove protesters from its downtown campus who've been there for nearly four weeks now and are refusing to leave until their demands are met. So let's welcome Robert Brim, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, here with some insight. Good morning, Robert, thanks so much for joining us. And we wanted to have you on because you helped to craft some of the questions or all of the questions for this Leger polling, which was sent out at the beginning of the month, which is roughly around the same time that this U of T encampment first popped up. Can you tell us about what was asked and the findings? Yes, it was actually in the field in the middle of the month. It consisted of 1519 respondents, adult Canadians, and we found that less than 1/5 of of the Canadian adult population supports the encampment movement. So that was the the top finding, the headline finding. We also found that opponents and supporters of the encampment movement are quite different in terms of their socio demographic characteristics. The supporters tend to be younger, they tend to be on the left wing of the political spectrum. They tend to be urban dwellers and and supporters are less likely than opponents to regard Jews as to regard them highly. And they're less likely to believe the Jews are at the top, are the top victims of prejudice and hate in Canada, although police hate crime statistics say otherwise. So can you shed a little light then I guess on the other side, what reasons were given to oppose the the encampments? Because we are a country where free speech is is perceived as a right and and you would think that by and large most of us would support anyone's right to protest. Well, I think that most people do support the right to protest. The question is for how long, where and how. The problem that opponents of the protest movement have is that it's occupying private property, it's interfering with the operation of universities, and it's making some people feel intimidated and uncomfortable on campus, and some are even more upset than that. It's also interfering with convocation ceremonies that are due to take place in right where the the encampment exists at the University of Toronto at least. So there are, you know, perhaps thousands of people coming in from around the world and around the country to celebrate with their daughters and and sons the fact that they've graduated. And the the ceremony may be disrupted as a result of the encampment. It may not be held in the way that it's normally held. So those are the main reasons why there is opposition. A lot of people feel that it's gone on long enough. Free speech has been recognized. The right to protest has been recognized for up to a month now in some places. And it's it is a democracy and it does respect the minority rights, but it also respects majority rule. And the fact is that a great majority of Canadians are opposed to the encampments rather than supporters of it. So how do we balance then those two elements that you just mentioned, the rights of the encampment residents or the, pardon me, the the rights of the protesters and the rights of the broader community? Do you think obviously it cannot be done without state intervention, which is the point we're at now if we're filing injunctions. But is was there any other way that that could have been achieved? Well, I think other ways were attempted. Administrators at the University of Toronto, for example, which I know best, tried to negotiate with the with the protesters, with the people involved in the encampment, and their negotiations were very successful. So it seemed after more than three weeks of the existence of the encampment that it was time to ask them to leave the property or face certain consequences. OK, well, we will see how things play out today. It it is not over. But thank you so much for your insight. In the meantime, that's Robert Brim, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. Have a great day. Thank you very much.

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