Pro-Palestinian camp | McGill University’s request for injunction rejected

The Superior Court on Wednesday rejected McGill University’s request for a provisional injunction aimed at dismantling the pro-Palestinian encampment that occupies its land.


Published at 11:39 a.m.

Updated at 1:06 p.m.

The university establishment failed to demonstrate the urgency criterion for their request, ruled Judge Marc St-Pierre in his decision.

Filed last Friday, the injunction request cited health and safety risks, comparing the encampment to a “magnet” for protests and counter-protests.

However, since the first tents appeared, no violent incidents have been reported.

Even the counter-demonstration invoked by the university to illustrate the fear of an escalation of tensions “was carried out peacefully,” the judge underlined.

However, a request for a provisional injunction cannot be granted “as a preventative measure”, he recalled.

The university also argued that the encampment was on the same grounds where graduation normally takes place, which it was forced to move.

“The wise decision of [relocaliser] the event by the university means that the plaintiffs cannot justify the emergency by the convocation ceremony,” concluded the judge.

The university said it was “disappointed” with Wednesday’s decision. “We are currently analyzing the judgment,” she said by email.

The administration filed the request for the injunction after having exhausted “all intervention protocols at its disposal.” “Tensions are rising, and security and public health issues are arising on the ground,” she added.

His lawyers presented their arguments at the Montreal courthouse on Monday. They compared the camp to a “minivillage” with a laundry room, a cafeteria and even a library.

“There is a limit between demonstrating with slogans, signs […] and go camping in a fenced camp,” pleaded Me Jacques Darche, who represents the university.

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PHOTO PATRICK SANFAÇON, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

The injunction did not target anyone per se, but several organizations still appeared in court to defend the demonstrators.

They argued that dismantling would infringe on their right to freedom of expression.

The request for an injunction raises “complex questions” as to “the confrontation of two fundamental rights, that relating to the enjoyment of property and that relating to freedom of expression”, underlines the decision.

“A more in-depth analysis than is normally done in the context of a provisional injunction is desirable,” argued Judge St-Pierre.

This is the second request for an injunction aimed at dismantling the encampment rejected by the court.

In a decision rendered at the beginning of May, Judge Chantal Masse noted the fragility of the evidence presented by the plaintiffs, two students who accused the demonstrators of creating a “hostile” and “dangerous” environment.

“The court is of the opinion that the balance of inconvenience leans towards the demonstrators whose freedom of expression and peaceful assembly would be significantly affected,” she concluded.

More than a hundred tents are now set up on the university grounds.

The demonstrators, who demand that their administration cut all academic and financial ties with Israel, reiterated their desire to remain on campus after the filing of the injunction request.

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