Occupy Quebec encampment remains

Quebec City officials have left the Occupy Quebec site after removing some items deemed to be fire hazards.
Fire officials moved in to the Occupy Quebec encampment after 8:30 p.m. Thursday to remove anything deemed a fire hazard. (Radio-Canada)

Quebec City officials have left the Occupy Quebec site after removing some items deemed to be a fire risk.

The tents on the site remain, but officials are still asking protesters to remove their encampment at the Place de l'Université-du-Québec.

Jacques Perron, city spokesperson, said officials moved in shortly after 8:30 p.m. ET to start inspections of the site and to take away anything hazardous.


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That so-called first step wasn't going to include the removal of tents, he told reporters.

"We hope that, voluntarily, they'll obey the order of the city and take down their tents," he said.

There's nothing prohibiting people from demonstrating or expressing themselves, he said, adding a public place isn't a space for encampments.

Inspectors with the Quebec City fire department removed some materials from the camp including toasters, electrical cords, wood and wooden beams.

It's unclear when the city officials will return to the encampment or what will happen if the protesters don't comply with the order to remove their tents.

Mayor Régis Labeaume told the media Thursday morning the protesters would need to remove the encampment by the end of the day.

The order came after a fire broke out Tuesday morning near one of the tents set up in the Occupy site.

The demonstrators voted Thursday morning to remain at the camp even if police choose to intervene.

"We've unanimously decided to stay here because we're part of an extraordinary movement spreading around the word that is denouncing savage capitalism," Benjamin Cliche said.

"This here is a spot where citizens of the world – cultivated people who work and who have families – are coming to express their indignation over the current system."

A post on the Occupon Quebec Facebook page said the group planned to stay at the site and form a human chain. They also appealed for legal help.

They received official notification from police at 2:45 p.m. ET.

The notice says protesters must dismantle all "dangerous installations" as soon as possible.

Occupy protesters in Quebec City voted to remain at a site at Place de l'Université-du-Québec after the mayor ordered the encampment removed Thursday. ((Radio-Canada))
By 3:30 p.m. ET protesters started spreading their tents out in response to criticism from the fire department that the tents were hazardous because they were too close together.

The city said it was considering how to clear the space, but the use of force did not appear to be among the options being weighed.

"We don't want to turn them into martyrs," said Perron.

"We're not going to bust in there. We hope they understand our position."

He said the protesters have had ample time to express themselves and make their point.

The group has discussed changing locations if they are forced out. Notices will be posted on its website.

The protesters have been on the site since Oct. 15, when the Occupy Movement rolled out demonstrations in cities across the country.

There had been talk Vancouver might also force its protesters to move, but those plans have been scrubbed for now. Instead, the city's Santa Claus parade is being re-routed to avoid the protest square.

Hundreds of Occupy Montreal protesters remain at Square Victoria.

Many of them joined an anti-G20 protest organized by the anti-capitalist group known as CLAC Thursday night.

Hundreds of people marched through downtown after gathering at Phillips Square just after 6 p.m.

Demonstrators set fire to an effigy of Stephen Harper at a G20 protest in Montreal. ((Thomas Daigle/CBC))
The protesters expressed frustration with what they described as a focus on big business, not financial inequality, at the G20 summit in Cannes, France.

Organizers with megaphones listed off the names of Quebec millionaires as the march proceeded on René-Lévesque Boulevard following a brief stop at the Occupy Montreal camp.

At least one person set off firecrackers, but the march remained peaceful.

Police officers on bikes and motorcycles kept an eye on the crowd.

Before dispersing shortly before 8 p.m., someone lit an effigy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper ablaze.

With files from The Canadian Press