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The Globe and Mail

Rob Ford's funding cuts protested at mayor's New Year's Levee

City hall security scuffle with protesters as he tries to take him to an office after the protester unfurled a banner during the traditional mayor's levee at Toronto city hall on Jan. 2, 2012.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Toronto's New Year's Levee hosted by the mayor was briefly interrupted twice Monday in less than an hour by protesters railing against funding cuts.

"Stop the cuts," chanted a small group of protesters who released a bunch of helium-filled balloons tied to a banner with the same slogan written on it.

About half an hour later the same group had protesters hold a banner in front of Mayor Rob Ford and the nine or so other councillors at the event. The two people were quickly escorted away and the banner was taken away. One man was taken into a nearby security office and two police officers followed him in.

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The man who was protesting was allowed to leave at about half an hour later, according to Victoria Barnett from the Stop the Cuts group. She said the man wasn't arrested or charged. Afterwards there was a small police presence on the outside of the festivities, which had about 200 people lining up to see the mayor at 2 p.m.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday told reporters the majority of people in line seemed to support the mayor and his administration.

"People are free to express themselves as long as they do it in a lawful way," Mr. Holyday said.

He said he was unsure why the event was held on Jan. 2 rather than keeping with the tradition of holding it on the first day of the year.

Doug Mitchell, who has lived in Toronto since 1989, said he wasn't bothered when the levee was held but was willing to stand in line to congratulate the mayor on his first term.

"I think he should keep trimming the fat," said Mr. Mitchell. "Continue to cut so people appreciate what we have."

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