Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trudeau slams lockdown protests as counterproductive

Canadians who are gathering in large numbers to protest against COVID-19 related lockdown measures are in fact prolonging the pandemic and the very restrictions they dislike so much, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

Speaking at his regular press conference in Ottawa, Trudeau lamented the fact that “some people are still choosing to join large gatherings, or even go out of their way to protest public health measures and disrupt vaccine appointments.”

Trudeau’s comments came following anti-lockdown protests in Montreal near the city’s iconic Olympic stadium, which has been turned into one of the largest vaccination centres, and after hundreds attended a weekend rodeo event in central Alberta — held to protest COVID-19 restrictions.

But if anything, these demonstrations are having the opposite effect, Trudeau said.

“These protests are supposed to be about getting back to normal, but by spreading the virus, they do just the opposite and prolong lockdowns,” Trudeau said.

He thanked Canadians who are following public health guidelines in the name of stopping the pandemic and protecting their communities.

“The reason so many Canadians are following public health measures isn’t just because they want to get back to normal,” Trudeau said. “It’s because they care about their neighbours and our frontline workers.”

Hundreds attended a rodeo near Bowden, Alta., over the weekend in defiance of public health restrictions, despite surging COVID-19 cases. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has also condemned the rodeo event near Bowden, about 30 kilometres south of Red Deer.

The rodeo was billed as an anti-lockdown event, despite the fact Alberta has not experienced a strict lockdown during the pandemic.

Alberta’s hospital system is bracing for a massive surge of patients and some regions have scaled back surgeries to prepare.

The province has 23,608 active cases, the highest total since the pandemic began and the highest rate of COVID-19 infections in Canada and the U.S.

Kenney is expected to announce new COVID-19 restrictions in a live address to Albertans on Tuesday night. 

With files from CBC News

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