Tense moments in front of City Hall Saturday where protesters who say they are unhappy with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Liberal policies came face-to-face with counter-protesters, who say they are taking a stand against the far-right and racism.
Police were forced to intervene on several occasions to break up clashes between the two groups with four people taken into custody. One was charged with assaulting an officer, one for carrying a prohibited substance, believed to be pepper spray, and two for causing a disturbance.
Police did not specify from which side the individuals arrested were from.
The organizer of the event called it an anti-Trudeau rally and a show of freedom of speech, but some very controversial groups attended to march alongside him.
“I’m definitely not a white supremacist,” said Ronny Cameron. “The groups are going to show up to these events. I can’t be responsible for every single individual or group.”
Counter-protesters also showed up by the dozens. They say this was a hate rally, deeply rooted in racism and white supremacy which has no place anywhere in Canada.
“You can see even by the signs that they’re carrying, by who is over there on the other side. These are far-right white supremacists,” said counter-protester and university professor David McNally.
“We are representing anti-racism groups across the city and we’re saying that this message of hate is not welcome in Toronto.”
The city says organizers of the rally did not have a permit for the demonstration, but because Nathan Phillips Square is deemed a public space, one isn’t necessarily required.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says there is no place for hate in Toronto.
“Everyone has a right to protest peacefully in this city and country,” he said in a statement to CityNews. “But protests that include hatred, bigotry and racism, sexism or homophobia are not welcome here.”
Another far right rally is scheduled for Toronto’s Kew Beach in November. It’s being organized by the same group that attempted to hold a white supremacist rally in Peterborough back in September.