More inconsistency from our elected officials.
The City of Ottawa has stated that it will not be handing out tickets to individuals that attend upcoming anti-racism protests at the US Embassy, even though a Provincial Emergency Restriction still remains in place due to the dangers of COVID 19 transmission and infection. It is expected that thousands of people will be in Ottawa at the US Embassy and across the city to rally and protest, with many being from out of town and even from out of Province.
As reported: Anthony di Monte, Ottawa’s general manager of community and protective services, said: “police would be monitoring the event in order to ensure public safety, but would not be handing out tickets.”
“The City is not permitting or sanctioning the event, per se,” Di Monte said. “We’re in a state of emergency and groups of more than five are not permitted. That said, there’s a balance. We live in a democracy. Groups of people are expressing themselves and they’re allowed to do that. Police won’t be issuing tickets. Our simple role will be to ensure public safety.”
It as also reported: Ottawa Public Health’s associate medical officer of health, Dr. Brent Moloughney, is encouraging anyone who wants to attend Friday’s demonstration to practice pandemic control measures thoroughly. Dr. Moloughney said:
“We understand that people want to gather to march and express themselves. If you are planning on joining the march this week, please do so responsibly, by taking steps to keep yourself and others as safe as possible,”
Dr. Moloughney recommends: That people practice physical distancing as much as possible, and said:
“Ideally two metres, but one metre is better than no metres,”…. “Consider alternatives to yelling and shouting, to avoid spreading droplets. Use signs or drums,” he suggests.
How many times has the Ontario and Canadian public been told, that if it just saves one life, we all MUST accept and adhere to Emergency Restrictions put in place by our public health and government. It is for our own safety, the safety of the vulnerable and at risk as well as the safety of front line workers. There will potentially be thousands of people gathered in Ottawa on Friday, likely in very close proximity to each other, yelling, singing, talking, etc… How many lives will be affected and lost due to these actions and the governments lack of enforcement of it’s own regulations?
Ontario Citizens have a democratic right to gather assemble PERIOD and not just at times politicians want to determine what is “exceptional” and what is not. Let’s look at a few examples where restrictions around right to assemble have been strictly enforced:
(1) Over the past few weeks Ontario citizens have chosen to act on their democratic right to protest in Toronto against the ongoing Ontario lock downs. The gatherings started up as 100 people or so and have since grown. When Doug Ford was asked at the end of April what message he had for these citizens acting on their democratic rights to protest, what was Doug Ford’s response?
“…When I looked out the window and we see these people, absolutely irresponsible, it’s reckless to do what they are doing and personally I think it is selfish. We have health care workers down the street at these hospitals working around the clock to protect the community. 99.9% of the people in this province are working together side by side. That’s the reason we are able to see a flattening of the curve. But then …we have a bunch of YAHOOS out in the front of Queens Park sitting there protesting….. as they’re breaking the law putting everyone in jeopardy, putting themselves in jeopardy, putting the workers in jeopardy and God forbid one of them end up in the hospital down the street. You know..we’re better than this…we’re better than this as a people and as a Province….”
(2) The Ontario Government has limited family gatherings for funerals to 10 people, regardless of whether it is held inside or outside at the graveside. I guess family gathering to grieve and mourn loved ones who have died is not considered “exceptional” or essential enough. Assembly of people to mourn a loved one at time of death is as much a right as it is to protest. It was suggested by government, for the safety of the public, that families could hold virtual ceremonies in place of physical family gatherings.
(3) Religious Freedom and Assembly is a democratic right. Up to May 15, the Ontario government was not allowing mass gatherings in Church parking lots, even if all members remained in their vehicles. Tickets were handed out in some cities for breaking the Ontario Emergency Restriction. The Government has again recommended virtual gatherings as a fair and reasonable alternative based on the COVID 19 circumstances. On May 17 we reported that on May 16 Doug Ford had signed an amendment to the Emergency Act, allowing for people of all faith to gather in parking lots, but certain rules had to be followed. (a) Everyone attending must remain in a vehicle designed to be closed to the elements (it was later discovered that police were allowing windows down) (b) All vehicles must remain 6ft apart at all times (c) Only 5 people (organizers) from were allowed out of their vehicles and must also stay 6ft apart at all times. There were reports by some Church goers that police were on site Sunday mornings to enforce these rules. CBC Ottawa reported that mosques were also taking advantage of the new amendment, but being sure to maintain all restrictions enforced as legislated.
We have been told that all of these restrictions override any democratic rights in the name of public health and safety. These are just two examples among many, including so many small businesses who are hurting and/or have gone out of business due to these same Emergency Measure Restrictions of gatherings no larger than 5 people.
I am not against the protest being held in Ottawa this coming Friday June 5th, in fact I highly respect the rights of those who wish to protest. What I do have a problem with however is the constant examples of inconsistency when it comes to COVID 19 regulations. Why is the Ontario government not enforcing their public gathering restrictions and suggesting that protesters also hold a virtual event? If it can just save ONE LIFE from the general public, our vulnerable and front line workers, should the gathering restrictions not be mandated and enforced?