Anti-lockdown protest held downtown Orangeville

April 15, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Over 100 people gathered at the intersection of Broadway and First Street on Sunday afternoon (April 11), protesting the Province’s most recent lockdown restrictions and closure of small businesses.

While some protestors had clear messages of support for small businesses, stressing that all sectors are essential, others held up signs calling the measures tyrannical and a violation of their Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Anti-lockdown protestor, Peggy Bond said she was motivated to attend the protest to stand up for small businesses that are being forced to close down.

“I just feel for all of those small businesses that do not have a choice but to shut down,” she remarked. “Who’s to decide who’s essential, right? I mean, our society works as interlocking cogs and wheels.”

The Canadian economy totals 1.2 million employer businesses, of which, 98 per cent are small businesses, and data shows up to 225,000 of them will close because of COVID-19.

In terms of the government’s pandemic response, Bond says resources should have been allocated to protect the elderly and those vulnerable to the virus, while giving healthy people the option to work if they feel comfortable.

On top of devastating small businesses, Bond says she’s a healthcare professional and has seen a failure in the medical system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have people that have missed cancer diagnosis, they’ve been kicked out of rehab, they had their surgeries delayed, they’re not being assessed by their doctor in person, for whatever reason, and are afraid to seek medical help,” she noted. “Those are the victims that aren’t counted in the [COVID case] numbers that people see on CP24 every day.”

Fellow anti-lockdown protestor, Bob, also attended the local rally to voice his dissent towards the latest pandemic restrictions.

He told the Citizen that he’s a property manager and has seen the negative impacts of lockdowns firsthand on tennants.

“I’m seeing people not being able to pay their bills, not being able to put food in their kids’ mouths, not being able to have a roof over their head from month to month,” he remarked.

Bob said he believes the impacts of the COVID-19 restrictions are causing more harm than the virus itself. He told the Citizen that since the start of the pandemic, several people he knows have caught COVID-19 and recovered, but two friends of his have passed away from drug overdoses, related to the restrictions.

“It was because they couldn’t do what NA [Narcotics Anonymous] told them, and keep busy,” he said.

Another attendee of the local protest, Tania, noted that the original purpose of the lockdown restrictions was to protect the long-term care homes and vulnerable individuals from catching COVID-19, so now that they’ve been vaccinated against the virus, Ontario needs to open back up.

She added that the first two lockdowns didn’t stop COVID-19 and the provincial government shouldn’t expect this one to be any different.

“We just keep doing the same thing and then hoping for different results,” Tania remarked.  

Eva Meyer, who also attended the protest, said she believes Public Health should not be the only voice dictating lockdown restrictions, but instead, one voice at the table, where all impacted parties are included in a broad discussion.

She added that it’s unfair for the government or Public Health experts to dictate who’s essential and who’s not, while they’re all guaranteed salaries through the lockdowns.

“Politicians don’t lose a paycheck, the medical officer isn’t losing a paycheck, but they can tell everybody else that they can lose their paycheck, and good luck feeding your kids or surviving,” she charged.  

Meanwhile, a handful of Dufferin OPP officers were present at the anti-lockdown rally on Sunday.

While the protest was peaceful, there was an incident where an attendee, who’s the alleged protest organizer, was charged with failure to comply with an order made during a declared emergency contrary to the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act.

Under the order, outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people, while the protest on Sunday had over 100.

The person charged was handcuffed for a short period of time during the incident, but in the end the handcuffs were removed and he was released on the spot.

As of April 13, 3,600 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ontario and Dufferin has 110 active cases.

The mortality rate for COVID-19 was 2.16 per cent in Canada as of press time. When looking at the age of COVID-19 cases resulting in death, 70 and over currently account for 88 per cent.

Going forward, it is anticipated that more anti-lockdown protests will be held in Orangeville, however no details on the future events have been released.

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