CALGARY – A movement that profiles itself as a guardian of constitutional rights and ‘lover of freedom’ has been mobilized again to protest the province’s COVID-19 rules and the Prime Minister of Alberta has spoken out against the demonstration.
Walk For Freedom staged a march last week and protested outside Calgary City Hall to push back against the Alberta government’s rules on the mandatory wearing of masks and other restrictions in many parts of the province.
After hundreds of people attended, organizers pledged to do it again, so another protest took place at 1:00 PM
After seeing footage of the crowds gathered, well above the 10-person limit for outdoor gatherings, Jason Kenney spoke out on Twitter expressing disappointment with the situation.
“It is irresponsible to gather in large numbers, especially at this point of the pandemic,” he wrote. “It shows disdain for health workers and the vulnerable. There are many ways to protest government policies without risking viral spread.”
Kenney added that while recognizing that people have the right to protest, this should not overshadow anyone’s responsibility to public safety.
“Not congregating in large groups is only a healthy way to consider your neighbors, especially the vulnerable and primary health care workers.”
Calgary police have given tickets to six people in connection with last weekend’s rallies, including local activist Artur Pawlowski, who heads Street Church.
Pawlowski documented the interaction he had with police officers when they served him the $ 1,200 fine for breaking public health law and the $ 50 fine for violating the City Mask ordinance.
During the meeting, which he posted on YouTube, he called the agents “Gestapo” and accused them of violating his right to protest.
He says tickets and subpoenas were part of the CPS’s strategy to attack him unfairly after last week’s religious service at Olympic Plaza.
“Since when do I need the permission of the prime minister, prime minister or mayor of the city to exercise my right to a peaceful assembly to protest their madness?”
Walk For Freedom refers to the tickets in the most recent post, promising to fight them all in court.
The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedom says it has sued the province for what it calls the violation of the rights of the Charter, including the freedoms to assemble peacefully and religion.
“If governments violate the freedoms of our Charter, it is up to the government to specifically demonstrate that violations of their Charter do more good than harm,” said John Carpay of the Justice Center.
He says the court’s challenge focuses on the public health law, which he says is a clear violation of freedoms.
“Neither Jason Kenney nor (Alberta’s top physician) Deena Hinshaw have provided compelling evidence to prove that the lockdowns are saving lives,” he said. ‘If I get a ticket, then so be it. I will argue in court for my Charter Freedoms. ‘
In a media conference earlier this week, the Calgary police chief said the protesters have “blatant disregard” for the health guidelines designed to protect Albertans from COVID-19.
“Rest assured, investigations are ongoing and information is being collected so that appropriate enforcement action can be resumed at the right time and in the right way,” said Mark Neufeld.
Mayor Nenshi also redoubled his displeasure with the anti-mask protesters.
“Don’t do things that endanger people. It’s self-indulgence, it’s luxurious and we don’t have the luxury for that right now. It’s deeply, deeply selfish.”
Similar rallies are expected to take place in Edmonton and Red Deer, while Canmore will see another anti-mask protest on Sunday.
CTV News estimates that more than 1,000 people attended the event at City Hall on Saturday. Calgary Police did not have a specific number on the attendance.
(With files from Tyson Fedor)