Nine people were arrested on Parliament Hill Saturday morning as demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed with the federal government's plans to endorse the UN Global Pact for Migration.
Of the nine, eight were released without charge, but notices of transgression were issued, which means that they were banned from Parliament for 90 days. The lone person transferred to the Ottawa Police Service by Parliamentary Protective Services was accused of assaulting a police officer.
The man's name was not disclosed.
For just over an hour, starting around 10 o'clock in the morning, participants on either side of the metal barriers set up to separate them provoked each other, especially with insults and curses. About 50 RCMP officers in shock troops and at least as many regular RCMP officers and the Parliamentary Protection Service did their best to keep them apart.
However, the spirits occasionally ran, causing some physical altercations, while the police separated fighters and, at times, dragged them away. A counter-demonstrator, Larry Wasslen, said the demonstrators took their banner, which read "Death to Fascism. Freedom for the people.
The demonstrators, who registered plans for their demonstration with the police, were those who opposed Canada's support for the UN Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Regular Migration. The counter-protesters were those in favor of the pact or, at least, against the demonstrators.
"I did not realize these were the white supremacists," Wasslen said, pointing to the opposing group. "They took my poster and I tried to hold it, and then several cops grabbed me and pulled me back.
"I was trying to protect my flag," he added, "and instead of the cops protecting my freedom of expression, they supported the white supremacists. People have the right to live in peace and dignity, and these white supremacists are trying to deny this right. "
It was that simple. As a counter-demonstrator shouted, "Nazis were scattering our streets," one of his intended targets, who would only identify himself as Craig, replied, "You do not know who I am. You do not know anything about me.
Craig had traveled from Toronto with his 19-year-old son to the demonstration and denied any allegation that he was racist.
"I do not agree with Canada signing the UN pact," he said. "That's why I'm here.
"I have no problem with people who want to come here and want to work," he added, "but I live in Toronto and I will tell you that now all dorms in hotels and universities are full of outsiders and No one is trying to speak English.
"We all know the right thing: work hard, do what you do, pay your taxes and live a lot, and I'm on the team. But you put me down because I do not agree with you? Come on, man, this is childish and silly. My mother disagrees with my politics, but I do not hate my mother and she does not hate me. You can have different political positions and still talk.
"I'm a Leafs fan. This is probably the worst thing you can beat me for.
On the other side of the fence, a counter-demonstrator drew epithets when he stood before anti-UN pact demonstrators and pretended to have sex with the flagstaff he carried. As the troopers began to push back the counter-protesters shouting, "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here," Tara Hurford agreed that more dialogue was needed between the two sides.
"I am here primarily as a citizen who believes in humanity," said Hurford, who works as an animator in Development and Peace, an international Catholic-based development organization. "I believe in freedom of expression, but I think there is a fine line between freedom of speech and hate speech, and I do not know if the answer lies in not giving them a space. I think we need to hear their voices and listen to them instead of just yelling at them and saying they are scum. We need to look deeply into their concerns and why they are afraid of refugees.
"My hope," she added, "is that we could engage in honest conversations about what the fears are and what the possibilities are as well."
If Saturday's show represented an opportunity to do so, it failed, with players on both sides doing their best to provoke colleagues. A demonstrator, Darla Demaries and her husband left the demonstration for fear of their physical safety. Demaries said he decided to attend his first protest because of his concerns about the crime and what he described as Canada's open borders.
"We moved to Ottawa from Montreal in 1982, and it was very rare to hear of any crime at the time, and now it's daily … shootings.
"I am totally against the migration pact," she added, "because then our borders are completely open and God knows who will enter. No one is safe."
There was no official estimate of the combined size of the two groups, but it appeared that fewer than 300 people participated.
The counter-demonstrators left shortly after 11 am and marched to the Ottawa police station on Elgin Street. At that time, Demaries and her husband had left the protest as well, opting for a visit to Parliament Hill.