Even as Canada’s most populous province,Ontario, prepares to ease some of the emergency health restrictions, Toronto saw its largest anti-lockdown protest this past weekend.
About 500 people came out on a sunny Saturday in a non-violent protest against the lockdown which was instituted as part of the efforts to control the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The fourth such weekend gathering, there were many more signs being carried this time, and with an eclectic variety of messages, not all of which were directly related to the lockdown.
The health emergency with its restrictions on gatherings and business closures has put millions out of work in Canada and resulted in massive disruption and loss to the economy and personal lives. Similar situations around the world have also occurred as governments instituted emergency measures and restrictions of civil liberties in an effort to contain the pandemic.
After weeks of ‘containment’, groups of people are beginning to push back with anti-lockdown protests.
While there have been much larger such protests in Europe and the U.S., in Canada, the protests so far in a few major cities have been relatively small, Toronto’s gatherings in front of the provincial legislature grounds known as Queen’s Park being the largest.
The same day as the Saturday protest, the City of Toronto issued a media statement on the website saying, ” While healthy residents are encouraged to get fresh air and exercise, provincial orders and the City bylaw on physical distancing remain in effect, requiring people who are not from the same household to maintain a physical distance of two metres in a park or public square. The City’s coordinated COVID-19 Enforcement Team is continuing their important work across the city, educating residents on the bylaw and provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act orders. This month, the enforcement team has issued 106 tickets related to the use of amenities or gatherings in parks orsquares and spoken to almost 3,000 people”..
In spite of defying the ‘social distancing’ order between people and rules against crowds, police did not fine any of the protesters. In the past there has been concern from individuals and civil rights groups about the heavy fines handed out by police and bylaw officers in cities across Canada for such simple acts as sitting on a bench in parks which had been declared closed.
Unlike some incidents in the U.K and Europe, the Toronto protest, and others in Canada have been relatively incident free.
This latest gathering in Toronto however seems to have included a few people protesting against forced vaccinations, a subject that has been briefly proposed in political and medical circles, while some had religious messages and a few others protested the federal government gun ban.
There is no federal lockdown in Canada, but the provinces had instituted their own health states of emergency with corresponding lockdowns, although with some slight variations on restrictions. They are now beginning to ease restrictions as is the case with most countries.
additional information – sources
- BlogTO: T.Mok: Apr 17/20: Anti-lockdown protest returns to Queen’s Park in Toronto and was the largest turnout yet
- City of Toronto: May 16/20: media release- COVID-19 update
- CBC: N.Mortillaro: May 15/20: Mixed messages, frustration with lockdowns fuel some skepticism about pandemic
- Daily Hive: E.Rumball: Anti-lockdown protests returned to Queen’s Park on Saturday
- Narcity: H.Hanson: May 17/20: Anti lockdown protesters are back in Toronto and crowds are bigger than ever
- Associated Press (via CBC): May 16/20: Clashes, arrests across Europe as anti-lockdown protests flare