Protest devolves into chaos as TTC execs chased from Toronto subway station
Commuters just trying to go about their business on Monday were faced with a tense scene as transit workers angrily protested recent TTC vaccine mandates in a Toronto subway station.
Protesters from Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 squared off against TTC CEO Rick Leary and Councillor Brad Bradford on Monday, as the two were on the scene with other TTC representatives at Main Street subway station to meet with riders in the wake of recent service cuts.
The crowd made quite a bit of noise on social media, pushing the TTC to answer questions like why riders and transit operators aren't held to the same vaccination standards.
That in a nutshell is the #truth no matter what side of #VaccineMandate u fall on is the #Hypocrisy #ttcriders don’t have 2b #vaxxed or forced 2 use #ppe @TorontoStar @TheTorontoSun @blogTO @NarcityCanada @CP24 @NEWSTALK1010 @TTCStuart @CBCToronto pic.twitter.com/fDwOi2KoEA— Rocco Signorile (@imthedarkknight) November 23, 2021
But their behaviour at the station — many disregarding the by-law and basic common courtesy of wearing a face covering — raises concerns about anti-vaxxer motivations within the union.
Look at the angry workers in this video with masks down, off, or not properly covering their nose and mouth.— Sean Marshall (@Sean_YYZ) November 23, 2021
Does ATU 113 want to help make transit riders feel confident riding again, or are they once again engaging in self-destructive activity? https://t.co/hvMS6Z2gDS
And the madness didn't end there, a crowd surrounding and verbally accosting Leary and TTC communications specialist Stuart Green as they exited the station.
The audio in one Twitter video captured outside the station is hard to make out in places, but one person can clearly be heard telling Leary to take off his mask, while another utters an obscene accusation not worthy of repeating.
In light of what 2day represented do I think holding a meet & greet was appropriate @TTCStuart #rickleary rubbing salt in their wounds? @JohnTory @JayeRobinson this is your guy? @TorontoStar @blogTO @NarcityCanada @CP24 @NEWSTALK1010 @TheTorontoSun @globalnews pic.twitter.com/ByF48dqrpj— Rocco Signorile (@imthedarkknight) November 23, 2021
The TTC's Stuart Green tells blogTO, "there was a small and very loud group who crashed Councillor Bradford's event at Main Street station last evening. The group became animated, shouting obscenities and disrupting customers who were heading home from work through the station. There were also children present."
Green says that the TTC CEO "chose to leave in order to defuse the situation and to protect our customers from the vulgarity and disruptive, inappropriate behaviour of the protestors."
ATU 113 issued a statement the day before the chaotic scene unfolded, its president, Carlos Santos, sending a clear message to the 12,000 TTC workers the union represents.
"The TTC's punitive mandatory vaccination policy is an avoidable mistake and insult to Toronto's transit workers who have proudly served our city throughout the pandemic," said Santos.
"Instead of looking to fire over 1200 workers and cutting service, the TTC should offer regular rapid testing to the small percentage of workers who do not wish to receive the vaccine," continued Santos. "This has proven to work with Brampton and Mississauga's transit systems, why not Toronto's as well?"
Still, some on the scene at Main Station on Monday were there to protest something entirely different.
TTCriders was not involved in any way with this event and we support a vaccine mandate. We did go to Main Street Station with some riders because we had seen the poster advertising the meet and greet but now we know why the Councillor had already left.https://t.co/vrcMw4fIVZ— TTCriders (@ttcriders) November 23, 2021
A group organized to confront — albeit much more politely — Leary and Bradford on the recent reduction of service routes, a move some say could have been avoided through the hiring of additional transit operators.
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