COVID-19 protests in Canada

COVID-19 anti-mask and anti-vaccination protests in Canada
Part of protests over responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
Date19 April 2020–present
Location
GoalsEnding COVID-19 restrictions in Canada
Methods
StatusOngoing
Parties to the civil conflict

The COVID-19 protests in Canada are protests that began in April 2020, with protests in Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, and Ottawa against the Government of Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent measures.[1][2]

National

British Columbia

Anti-lockdown protest in Vancouver, British Columbia, on 26 April 2020

COVID-19 anti-lockdown protests began on 19 April 2020 in Vancouver.[3][4]

Alberta

A group calling itself "Walk for Freedom" has been organizing anti-mask protests since at least April 2020.[5][6] Concerns were raised when several hundred protestors took part in a 20 February 2021 freedom convoy and Jericho Torch March at the Alberta Legislature Building organized by the "Walk for Freedom Alberta" and the "Freedom Unity Alliance".[7] Organizers for the Legislature event included People's Party of Canada's Laura-Lynn Thompson, New Federation Party of Canada's Brad Carrington, Wexit founder's Peter Downing, Kevin J. Johnston, Calgary street pastor, Artur Pawlowski, and Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta's Paul Hinman, according to their posters.[8]

In his 6 January 2021 YouTube message, Pawlowski announced what he called the "Jericho Freedom March" organized by the Street Church and March for Jesus" to the Legislature on 20 February. He said, "Look what is happening in and to the United States!" in reference to the 6 January storming of the United States Capitol. He said, "If we will not stand up and unite together now [against the globalistic agendas], we might never have this opportunity again. We would like to invite you to the biggest rally in Alberta".[9] Posters also said that they were peaceful, support the police group and "stand up for rights and freedoms".[7] Similar posters had been used since January that drew "confusion and concern from religious experts who say it appears to link religious and racist imagery" which included carrying Tiki torches used in the 2017 US Unite the Right rally.[10][11] The poster advertising the rally showed the 2017 "image of white nationalists marching through Charlottesville."[12]

The group of hundreds of unmasked anti-lockdown protestors, carrying a Walk for Freedom banner included COVID-19 deniers,[13] as well as, supporters of the pastor of the Edmonton-area Grace Life Church, James Coates, who was arrested on 17 February 2021 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for refusing to comply to the Alberta Health Services Public Health Act legislation regarding the capping of attendance capacity at 15% and masking and physical distancing of congregants in the church.[14][15] Coates is represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) lawyer, James Kitchen, who, along with JCCF's John Carpay, launched a legal challenge against the 24 November 2020 public health restrictions imposed by the Alberta government saying that they "interfere with Albertans' charter rights".[16] Carpay, who has been a supporter of Premier Jason Kenney and a member of the United Conservative Party (UCP), had previously filed a lawsuit in May 2020, challenging the constitutionality of Bill 2, proposed by Health Minister Tyler Shandro in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta.[17] Official Opposition and NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the protesters—many of whom were carrying Tiki torches—were supporters of white nationalism, who were there to intimidate and spread hatred.[13] Both the Alberta Sheriffs and Edmonton police attended the scene—the Edmonton police kept the protesters separate from an anti-racism rally scheduled to take place at the same time.[13]

There were tense moments on 21 February, when anti-mask and anti-restriction protesters heckled the media saying that they were "fake news" and "propaganda."[18] In a 20 February statement, the Mayor of Edmonton, Don Iveson said that "Some people associated with this rally, which is being led by organizers from outside Edmonton, may be associated with known hate groups. Edmonton unequivocally condemns racism, misogyny and other forms of hate—such speech is not welcome in our community."[19]

On April 11, 2021, a couple hundred protesters gathered at Courthouse Park in Calgary, Alberta in support of small businesses and protested against the re-introduction of public health measures by Alberta's government.[20]

In early May 2021, a large group of people attended a rodeo advertised as an anti-lockdown protest on an empty lot along Highway 2A near Bowden, Alberta.[21] On May 8, 2021, Alberta police arrested two Calgary church leaders who have vocally opposed and defied public health restrictions. Gas station and restaurant owner Chris Scott, whose Whistle Stop Cafe has become a symbol of small business anti-public health restrictions movements in rural Alberta, was also arrested on May 8.[22]

Saskatchewan

On 21 April 2020, it was reported that prisoners at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary had been protesting against restrictions placed upon them in response to COVID-19.[23]

Ontario

An anti-lockdown protest in front of the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen's Park, Toronto, 25 April 2020

On 25 April 2020, there were small protests totalling 200 protesters in front of the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen's Park, Toronto, demanding that Premier Doug Ford end all emergency measures. Some of the protesters considered COVID-19 to be a hoax. Ford called them "a bunch of yahoos."[24]

On 2 May 2020, there was another protest with 100 protesters in front of the Ontario Legislative Building.[25] Also on 2 May, around 20 people gathered at rally calling for COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted on Wellington Street near Parliament Hill in Ottawa.[26]

In July 2020, Chris Sky and 40 activists from his Hugs Over Masks group entered a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway without masks to protest the introduction of a mask by-law on the TTC, claiming exemption.[27]

On 15 January 2021, Roman Baber, Member of Provincial Parliament for the Toronto riding of York Centre, was removed from the caucus of the governing Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario after publishing an open letter to Doug Ford criticizing Ontario's lockdown restrictions. Baber continued his anti-lockdown advocacy as an independent member of the legislative opposition.[28][29][30] On 23 January 2021, an anti-lockdown rally took place at Yonge-Dundas Square which resulted in arrests and charges being laid by Toronto police.[31]

Since early March 2021, there have been protests held in Barrie, Ontario at Meridian Place, with one protest on 10 April drawing a crowd of 300 people.[32] The person who has led the protests has been hit with an $800 fine by the Barrie Police Service.[32] On 17 April, People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier attended the protests and gave a speech in front of a crowd of hundreds of protesters.[33]

On the afternoon of 17 April 2021, approximately 300 anti-lockdown protestors gathered in the area of Main Street East and Kenilworth Avenue North in Hamilton, Ontario.[34] Police were in the area of the protest for public safety and enforcement.[34]

On 17 April 24 April, and 15 May, mass rallies were held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa; multiple members of the police force were observing.[35]

On 15 May 2021, a massive rally was held at Queen's Park in Toronto, which was followed by a march down Yonge Street, southward to Lakeshore, then westward along Lakeshore to Spadina, then Northbound on Spadina Avenue, then back the Queen's Park, where a DJ played music and people danced to end the rally.

On 1 September 2021, anti-vaccine passport protests were held in Toronto, Oshawa and London, Ontario in response to the Ontario government announcing a COVID-19 vaccine certification system that came into effect on 22 September.[36]

Responding to protestors outside Toronto General Hospital on 13 September 2021, Raghu Venugopal held a counter protest.[37][38] He called the protests "un-Canadian" and "unacceptable".[39][40] Later that day, Justin Trudeau announced he would criminalize blocking access to hospitals;[41] and an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada was approved on the 17 December 2021.[42]

Quebec

On 20 December 2020, hundreds of protestors marched on Sherbrooke Street and McGill College Avenue to Parc Lafontaine in Montreal, with signs that said "We Reject your Great Reset" and "Better to die free than live without freedom." Police handed out hundreds of tickets.[43]

On 8 January 2021, small protests were organized against 4 weeks of "shock-therapy", as stated by Quebec premiere Francois Legault, which included a 4-week 8pm curfew for all residents of Quebec. The protestors marched in downtown Montreal and were fined a minimum of $1000, and some were detained in prison[44]

On 1 May 2021, thousands gathered in Montreal to protest Quebec's COVID-19 public health measures, marching around Maisonneuve Park and the Botanical Garden and followed Sherbrooke Street and Viau Street to Rosemont Boulevard and Bourbonnière Avenue. Halfway through, the protest spanned nearly 2 kilometres (1.24 miles). Multiple protestors were persistent that they were specifically protesting a 4-week curfew that began in Quebec on 8 January 2021, that along with other restrictions, were extended or have been ongoing ever since. They specifically mentioned that they were not against masks, nor vaccinations, just the 8pm curfew due to it being counter productive and not supported by scientific evidence nor data to be proven effective. They also specifically mentioned that they would probably be mis-represented by mainstream news media as extremists and conspiracy theorists. Towards the end of the protest, a smaller group of protestors began throwing rocks, fireworks, and smoke bombs at police officers, resulting in tear gas being used against the protestors and several protestors being arrested. PPC leader Maxime Bernier attended the protest. As a result of the protest, public health officials were forced to reschedule vaccinations at Montreal's Olympic Stadium or transfer vaccinations to other health clinics.[45][46][47]

See also

References

  1. ^ "'A bunch of yahoos,' Ont. premier says of people protesting COVID-19 emergency measures | CTV News". Toronto.ctvnews.ca. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  2. ^ Lauren, Boothby (1 May 2020). "Hundreds flock to Alberta legislature to protest COVID-19 restrictions". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  3. ^ Carrigg, David (19 April 2020). "COVID-19: Small group protests coronavirus restrictions in Vancouver". Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Protesters march against COVID-19 prevention measures in Vancouver | CTV News". Bc.ctvnews.ca. 26 April 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Protest to 'End the Lockdown' attracts more than 100 people to Alberta legislature". CTV News Edmonton. 29 April 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  6. ^ Bruch, Timm (12 December 2020). "Anti-mask protesters take to the streets in Calgary to fight COVID-19 restrictions". CTV News. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  7. ^ a b Bench, Allison (21 February 2021). "Protesters gather from across the province at Alberta legislature to fight COVID-19 health measures". Global News. Edmonton, Alberta. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  8. ^ @YYCantiracist (22 February 2021). "Walk for Freedom Alberta poster image for February 20 rally". Twitter. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  9. ^ Artur Pawlowski (6 January 2021), Jericho Freedom March, Calgary, Alberta
  10. ^ "COVID Conspiracy Groups Are Using A Picture From Charlottesville Neo-Nazi Rally To Promote Their Upcoming 'Torch March'". Canadian Anti-Hate Network. 16 February 2021. Archived from the original on 22 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  11. ^ WALK108 (16 February 2021). "Poster for Walk for Freedom rallies". Facebook. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Experts confused, concerned with anti-lockdown rally imagery". 660 NEWS. 24 January 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  13. ^ a b c "Hatred, COVID-19 skepticism denounced after anti-lockdown rally at Alberta legislature". CTV Edmonton. 21 February 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  14. ^ "GraceLife pastor held in custody for refusing to comply with bail conditions". Edmonton, Alberta. 17 February 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  15. ^ "Anti-lockdown rally at Alberta legislature voices support for jailed pastor". The Star. Edmonton, Alberta. 21 February 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  16. ^ Griwkowsky, Catherine (7 December 2020). "Justice centre launches legal challenge against Covid restrictions". Politics Today. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  17. ^ Johnson, Lisa (2 May 2020). "Lawsuit challenges constitutionality of Alberta UCP's Bill 10". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  18. ^ Anti-lockdown protesters clash with media at "Walk for Freedom" rally. CTV News. 21 February 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  19. ^ "Anti-restriction protesters gather at legislature, march in streets with tiki torches". 660 News. Edmonton, Alberta. 20 February 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  20. ^ Fedor, Tyson (11 April 2021). "Anti-lockdown protesters fighting for Alberta small businesses". CTV News Calgary. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  21. ^ Rieger, Sarah (2 May 2021). "Alberta Health Services explores legal options after hundreds attend rodeo". CBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  22. ^ Cryderman, Kelly (9 May 2021). "Alberta police arrest three anti-lockdown protesters". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  23. ^ Bridges, Alicia (21 April 2020). "Sask. Penitentiary inmates protest COVID-19 restrictions they say put them in cells 20 hours per day". CBC News. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  24. ^ "'A bunch of yahoos,' Ont. premier says of people protesting COVID-19 emergency measures | CTV News". Toronto.ctvnews.ca. 23 April 2020. Archived from the original on 24 September 2020. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  25. ^ "Anti-lockdown protestors take to Queen's Park again - CityNews Toronto". CityNews Toronto. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  26. ^ Woods, Michael; Larocque, Leah (2 May 2020). "Small turnout at Ottawa anti-lockdown protest". CTV News Ottawa. Archived from the original on 2 May 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  27. ^ "Protesters ride TTC without masks to call for an end to mandatory face coverings in Toronto". Toronto. 7 July 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  28. ^ Benzie, Robert (15 January 2021). "Premier Doug Ford turfs MPP Roman Baber from Tory caucus for opposing COVID-19 lockdown". Toronto Star. Torstar. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  29. ^ "Ford ousts MPP from caucus over open letter pushing for end to COVID-19 lockdown". cbc.ca. 15 January 2021.
  30. ^ @Roman_Baber (15 January 2021). "I was removed from the @OntarioPCParty caucus. It's a regretful decision since many colleagues agree with me, incl @fordnation in large part. I don't regret speaking out for millions of lives & livelihoods decimated by Public Health, I serve the public. The Lockdown is grounded in false public health narrative, poor planning & bad data. While Doug only cares about re-election, Lockdowns are killing more than saving. I couldn't watch the suffering anymore. I hope I encouraged other professionals to speak out" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 15 January 2021 – via Twitter.
  31. ^ "Today's coronavirus news: Toronto police arrest, lay charges after anti-lockdown rally held at Yonge-Dundas Square; The Beer Store temporarily closes one of its locations after employee tests positive". The Star. 23 January 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  32. ^ a b Morris, Siobhan (10 April 2021). "Barrie Police ticket organizer of anti-lockdown protest". CTV News Barrie. Archived from the original on 16 April 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  33. ^ Keith, Elizabeth (17 April 2021). "Huge Crowds Are In Barrie Protesting The Government's Latest COVID-19 Measures (PHOTOS)". Narcity. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  34. ^ a b "Police responding to large-scale anti-lockdown protest in Hamilton". Insauga. 17 April 2021. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  35. ^ "Anti-lockdown protest marches through downtown Ottawa". CBC News. 15 May 2021. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  36. ^ Rocca, Ryan (1 September 2021). "Protests held after Ontario government announces COVID-19 vaccine certification system". Global News. Archived from the original on 1 September 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  37. ^ "Doctor holds counter-protest against anti-vaccine protest outside his Toronto hospital". CBC News. 13 September 2021.
  38. ^ "CityNews". toronto.citynews.ca. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  39. ^ "Doctor holds counter-protest against demonstrators targeting hospitals". CBC News.
  40. ^ "COVID-19 hospital protests 'a morale blow' to Canada's exhausted health-care workers | Globalnews.ca". Global News. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  41. ^ Connolly, Amanda (13 September 2021). "'It's not right': Trudeau vows to criminalize blocking access to hospitals amid protests". Global News.
  42. ^ "C-3 (44-1) - LEGISinfo - Parliament of Canada". www.parl.ca. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  43. ^ J. Rowe, Daniel (20 December 2020). "As coronavirus numbers spike in Quebec, hundreds gather to protest restrictions and hundreds get tickets". CTV News Montreal. Archived from the original on 21 December 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  44. ^ Olson, Isaac (9 January 2021). "Montreal anti-curfew protest met with strong police presence, 17 people given fines". Global News.
  45. ^ Olson, Isaac (1 May 2021). "Demonstrators, many maskless, march in Montreal against public health restrictions". CBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  46. ^ Thomas, Katelyn (2 May 2021). "Protest against COVID-19 measures in Montreal ends with tear gas and arrests due to "more aggressive" smaller group". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 1 May 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  47. ^ MASSIVE Montreal Lockdown Protests - Viva Frei Vlog. Viva Frei. 1 May 2021. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 7 September 2021 – via YouTube.

Media files used on this page

Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg
Flag of Canada introduced in 1965, using Pantone colors. This design replaced the Canadian Red Ensign design.
COVID-19 Vancouver's largest protest, April 26th 2020 (49823131178).jpg
Author/Creator: GoToVan from Vancouver, Canada, Licence: CC BY 2.0
COVID-19 Vancouver's largest protest, April 26th 2020
Canadian COVID-19 protesters (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmmswan/, Licence: CC0
Protesters at Queen's Park on Saturday, April 25 demand an end to public health rules put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.