The University of Toronto turned to the courts Monday in an effort to clear an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters from its downtown campus, as a Quebec judge imposed restrictions on a similar demonstration at the Université du Québec à Montréal. 

At the Toronto encampment, protesters said they were prepared to fight back with their own legal team and refused to leave the site, ignoring a deadline set in a trespass notice that had been issued last week. 

U of T president Meric Gertler said the school was seeking an injunction and asking a court for an expedited case conference.

"In addition to pursuing this legal avenue to return King’s College Circle to the university community, we continue to engage in discussions with students representing those in the encampment," he wrote in a statement early Monday.

"We held a long and productive meeting yesterday and are meeting again today. We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement and bring the unauthorized encampment to an end."

University officials had issued a trespass notice on Friday ordering demonstrators to remove the encampment by 8 a.m. Monday, and on Sunday officials indicated they would seek an injunction in court if protesters didn't comply. 

The protesters, who set up tents in a large green space at the heart of the university's downtown campus on May 2, were joined by faculty and labour groups for a rally outside the nearby Convocation Hall as the trespass deadline passed.

Demonstrators held up flags and huddled under umbrellas as a drizzle turned to heavier rain during the rally.

Sara Rasikh, one of the spokespeople for the encampment, told the crowd that protesters tried for months to get the university to listen to their demands, but only received acknowledgment after setting up the encampment.

"The reason for this is because the people's strength is threatening to them. It is threatening to the legitimacy of this institution," she said. 

"U of T continues to propose committees but we want commitments. We want divestment. We want disclosure. And we want it now."

On Sunday, Rasikh had said the group had its own team of lawyers prepared to respond to an application from the university for an injunction.

"The fact that (university administrators) want the police to come in and clear us out after they told us that they want to end things peacefully, it just doesn't make sense," she said. "It does not change the fact that we will continue to remain steadfast in our demands.” 

Demonstrators and university administrators met Sunday afternoon, during which protesters presented what they described as a counter-offer calling on the school to disclose public investments in companies profiting from Israel's offensive in Gaza.

They're also asking the school to establish and let them be part of a joint working group examining private investments, as well as cut ties with two specific Israeli academic institutions. 

On Thursday last week, the university had made an offer to the protesters – with 24 hours to respond – that said the school would form a working group to consider options for the disclosure of the school's investments, but it would not end any partnerships with Israeli universities. 

On divestment, the university said it would strike an advisory committee to review the students' request under existing school policies. 

Natalie Rothman, a history professor at the university and a member of the Jewish Faculty Network, said she was "outraged" when the school issued the trespass notice.

"This is a peaceful protest. We've been here from day one, it's been nothing but a model of what the university should be like in terms of real learning, real solidarity, real community," Rothman said at Monday's rally.

"And the fact that the university would threaten students and staff and faculty with disciplinary actions for a peaceful protest in accordance with our Charter rights, with the university's own mission statement, is absolutely outrageous."

Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop said Monday she supported clearing the encampment at the University of Toronto.

"We want to ensure this is cleaned up and dealt with right away," Dunlop said. "Convocation is coming up and this is a safety issue. We want to ensure that families feel safe going on campus and not intimidated to attend the services."

Other universities have also taken legal action to end pro-Palestinian protest encampments that have cropped up on their campuses.

On Monday, a Quebec court granted the Université du Québec à Montréal a partial injunction against protesters who set up an encampment on its downtown campus earlier this month.

Superior Court Justice Louis J. Gouin ruled safety measures need to be put in place at the site, including prohibiting protesters from setting up tents and other material within two metres of campus buildings and ensuring doors, windows and walls are clear of obstructions.

The judge said the measures won't infringe on the encampment members' right to protest.

Separately, two judges denied provisional injunction requests to dismantle an encampment set up in late April at McGill University. McGill is now seeking an interlocutory injunction, which focuses less on urgency and more on legal rights at the heart of the dispute.

Meanwhile, protesters at McMaster University in Hamilton decided to put an end to their encampment after reaching a deal with the university last week. A statement issued by the group does not specify the terms of the agreement, but called it a "significant step forward" even though its demands were not all met.