On May 9, hundreds of protesters walked from Uptown Waterloo to Victoria Park, rallying against public health guidelines.
Speakers at the “No More Lockdown” rally included Randy Hillier, an independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston and Jacob Reaume, pastor at Trinity Bible Chapel in Woolwich Township.
Charges were issued in Waterloo for failure to comply with the stay-at-home order and gathering provisions. Tickets and court summons were also issued at Trinity Bible Chapel in Woolwich Township, which has been fined several times for exceeding capacity limits.
These rallies first started on April 18 and have been continuing every weekend since, increasing in size and number of participants. Carrying anti-government and anti-lockdown signs, the crowds said they were claiming their right to speak freely and demonstrate in spite of the global pandemic and the Ontario state of emergency. Some signs read: “Facts over fear,” “Communism: You Masked for it,” “Media is the virus. Compliance is the pandemic. Critical thinking is the cure,” and more simply, “No More Lockdowns.”
Citizens are encouraged to stay at home and avoid larger gatherings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Protesters approaching police officers to shout without masks or adhering to any safety measures are often fined, but official case numbers fall short in comparison to the size of the crowds each week.
The participants ranged in age from young children attending with parents to senior citizens.
Claiming to put a greater emphasis on issuing fines to the organizers and identifying participants, officials wrote out about 22 charges under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act as well as the Reopening Ontario Act. Of the 22 charges, two people were charged during the Sunday gathering.
Ontario entered into a state of emergency and issued the stay-at-home order on April 8 that has since been extended to June 2.