The local executives of Hamilton’s International Airport operator Tradeport say it was the Ontario Provincial Police who requested the Airport sign a trespass notice on May 26 to remove peaceful protestors.

“We did receive a request from the Ontario Provincial Police that the airport permit them to remove protesters from the airport property,” Airport Executive Managing Director Cole Horncastle told Hamilton City Council’s Airport Sub-Committee.

Horncastle states the OPP gave the airport “the understanding that safety was at an issue and access to airport tenants was impeded” and this is why “the airport granted that request.”

He says the Airport is “committed to review our internal policies and practices to ensure that decisions impacting protests in the future are made with fulsome information and protect activity related to peaceful protests to the extent possible.”

The Airport lands are municipally owned by the City of Hamilton, with Tradeport operating the airport as a private operation.

The protestors were gathered to protest the policies of Ontario Premier Doug Ford during the provincial election campaign. Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party was holding a rally inside a Cargojet hangar that evening.

Citing the trespass order signed by the Airport, Hamilton Police arrested Caryma S’ad that evening. The initial Hamilton Police statement claimed S’ad was on private property and “refused to move and was arrested.”

The next day, after social media videos circulated, HPS issued “further clarification” that S’ad “was denied entry to a Progressive Conservative Campaign event” and was arrested for not leaving the airport property. S’ad was arrested a distance from the event in a parking lot.

S’ad had registered for the event.

Hamilton Police also ordered the Hamilton District Labour Council and the Hamilton 350 Committee to leave a roadway leading to the Cargojet facility or face arrest. HPS did this at the apparent direction of a Conservative Party staff member.

“We were harassed by the gentleman from the Ontario PC party who followed us around and threatened us on a regular basis as we were there,” stated Hamilton District Labour Council President Anthony Marco during his delegation to councillors. “several times during the entire event, that same Ontario PC enforcer came out and said, you really want to spend the night in jail, don’t you?”

“After an hour of peaceful legal protest an HPS officer came over and told us we had to stop protesting because we were on airport property,” Marco said. The protestors were on an abutting roadway at the time Marco stated.

Tradeport Director Horncastle stated later in the meeting the roadway in question is on airport property.

“East Cargo Road and its entirety is under our Tradeport International Corporation’s management. And even though there may be city signage that signage is there for a purpose in that we follow standards similar to the city.”

Horncastle confirmed that he authorized the trespass order based upon information provided by the OPP and other airport tenants. He stated, “We were also dealing with other tenants at the time along the road, who were raising concerns for their employees” to access sites.

Marco stated the Labour Council and Hamilton 350 were conducting a traditional information picket and the delays were minor.

Ward 8 Hamilton City Councillor John-Paul Danko stated his concern with police possibly taking political direction.

“I think it is an important issue because the Ontario PC party has had a history of using police forces to have people that don’t agree with them protesters arrested. We saw the reporter in Toronto a few years ago, I believe it was Mike Crawley who was arrested on the sidewalk. The airport is under lease from the City of Hamilton and I think there is a bigger question here,” Danko stated. [Crawley was threatened with arrest for reporting outside the PC Party convention in February 2020.]

City councillors received the delegation without action.

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