Province issues eviction notices to pair of encampments on Manitoba Legislature grounds

Matter of safety for staff, visitors, tourists and other protesters, government says

By The Canadian Press, Posted: Aug 17, 2022

An encampment on the front lawn of the Manitoba Legislature building, shown here on Wednesday, has been given an eviction notice. A handful of police were present as the notices were given to demonstrators on the north and east sides of the legislative building Wednesday morning. (Kelly Malone/The Canadian Press)

Eviction warnings have been given to two longtime encampments on the Manitoba Legislature grounds.

A handful of police were present Wednesday as the notices were given to demonstrators on the north and east sides of the legislative building.

A statement from Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen’s office said rallies and protests are acceptable on the grounds.

But, the statement said, encampments are not permitted for the safety of staff, visitors, tourists and other protesters.

The move comes after the Progressive Conservative government passed legislation earlier this year to deal with the encampments.

It gives cabinet authority to determine what can and cannot occur on the legislature grounds, which includes banning encampments, vandalism and vehicle blockades.

It also bans setting fires, brandishing weapons, as well as depositing generators, firewood or other items to support an encampment.

“Those regulations bring Manitoba in line with other jurisdictions across Canada, regardless of political stripe,” the statement from Goertzen’s office said.

Manitoba Justice officials are the lead on all interactions with the encampments, the statement said. Winnipeg police said officers were assisting the province.

The government did not indicate how long the encampments had to leave the area.

One of the encampments that received notice has been in place for more than a year and includes several tents, flags and other structures. It was set up after the discovery of possible unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools.

A second encampment popped up around June and includes a large teepee on the front lawn. It had previously been associated with nearby parked vehicles that had messages opposing COVID-19 public health restrictions posted on them.

Last summer, a statue of Queen Victoria was knocked down and beheaded during a Canada Day demonstration following the discovery of the possible graves. A Queen Elizabeth statue was also toppled.

Earlier this year, protesters opposing COVID-19 restrictions also blocked off the streets in front of the legislature for nearly three weeks.

This story was originally published at cbc.ca. Read it here.

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