October 30th, 2020

Peaceful anti-mask protest delays start of city council meeting


By Herald on September 8, 2020.

Organizer Lee Mein speaks for a group protesting the recently passed mask bylaw Tuesday in council chambers at city hall. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald
Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com
About 80 people made a peaceful anti-masking protest at city hall just before Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The group, led by Lee Mein, owner of Canadian Martial Arts in Lethbridge, began its action outside, but soon went inside where protesters briefly occupied the city council chamber, delaying the start of the public council meeting, before departing peacefully again.
The protesters demanded an end to the City’s recently passed temporary mandatory face covering bylaw, and that public health restrictions be lifted all over the city.
“I don’t think this was a just mandate they put in place,” said Mein, who made provincial headlines back in July when he stated he planned to open his martial arts studio in contravention of the Government of Alberta’s phased reopening strategy at that time. Mein eventually backed down, but felt the City’s new masking bylaw and the continuing provincial health orders which prohibit public events over a certain size were “unjust” in his opinion.
“There is no need for (a COVID-19 masking bylaw),” he stated. “The numbers in the city were low, at zero when they actually posted it, and there are still no (higher) cases which validate having these things in place.”
Mein expressed a common concern among those present.
“Why should I have to restrict my business?” he asked. “Why should I be restricted when going into other businesses? Why should business owners be forced to deal with this in their business, and stress their staff out? And the customers? And build bad relations within the community? Over a mandate that is not necessary.”
Mein expressed his skepticism about the effectiveness of masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 before taking aim at the ongoing, in his opinion, unnecessary provincial health restrictions which are preventing life in Alberta from returning to normal.
“Let’s right the ship and get it back to normal, and let’s go about our business and do our things as we always did,” he said. “I want the City to know we are here, and we are not happy with things, and we’re people that live here. I want them to know we are not happy and we want something changed.”
“The mayor and city council should be going to the province saying we are not happy with this,” Mein later added. “We want to get our businesses back up and running. We want our community to thrive, and they are not doing that. They are not fighting for us.”
Mein said his perspective on the scientific evidence suggests COVID is not as bad as government and health officials are making out.
“This is never going to go away like chicken pox or the flu, and people still get the flu and die from the flu,” he said. “So what’s that number? What is flattening the curve? Is it zero? Do we have to maintain zero forever? Well, that will never happen because this will never go away. But how many people are actually dying from it? People that are healthy? That’s not happening. The average age of death from it is 83 years old in Alberta. The core problem of it is they are dying from a few things already, and then they got coronavirus. And that is what we’re shutting everything down for? It is sad those people died, but they would have died from the flu. They would have died from pneumonia. They are going to die from stuff anyways because of their age.”
After speaking to reporters, Mein proceeded to lead the group inside city hall contrary to provincial public health orders on capacity limits and the City’s temporary masking bylaw. They then entered the gallery of council chambers, disrupting the start of the council meeting. They sat in protest for a few minutes and were addressed by Coun. Ryan Parker, who applauded them for exercising their right to protest peacefully and encouraged them to seek alternative channels to communicate with councillors about their displeasure. He informed them, despite agreeing with many of their thoughts on the subject of masking, he could not take off his own mask because he had to respect the will of council on the masking bylaw. The protesters then thanked Councillors Blaine Hyggen, who was also present, and Parker for their opposition to the masking bylaw when it passed two weeks ago, and then filed out peacefully allowing the city council meeting to commence.
Parker said he appreciated hearing from citizens on the issue.
“I think people are really frustrated they didn’t have an opportunity to have their voice heard,” he said. “Today was an opportunity to get their voice heard, and it was very symbolic of a lot of people in the community who are very frustrated with this mask bylaw.”
While Parker said he could not condone people breaking City bylaws and provincial public health orders as the protesters did on Tuesday, he was pleased they did it in a peaceful way.
“They were very respectful,” he said. “They didn’t take up the whole council meeting. You know what? It was democracy in action, and people had their voices heard.”
Mayor Chris Spearman reiterated to reporters the temporary masking bylaw is in effect in Lethbridge to try to help safeguard the health of the public and prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks in the community.
And while the protest was peaceful, Spearman felt it sent the wrong message.
“What we intended to do,” he said, “when we brought forth the mask bylaw is to achieve two things: One is to protect the most vulnerable in our city. Those would include seniors, people with immune system deficiencies and anyone who is vulnerable to this — they have been affected very negatively. So we wanted to protect those people in our city.
“And secondly, we want to keep businesses open, and wearing masks is one of a suite of things we can do that including regular handwashing, making sure we cover appropriately if we are coughing or sneezing, and that we use the hand cleansers to make sure we are sanitizing. We want to make masks a part of that. We want people to social distance. Those are all things we want people to do to keep each other safe and keep businesses open in our city. The last thing we want is a second wave at the crucial period just before Christmas when retail shopping and the most commercial activity happens.”
Spearman emphasized the masking bylaw was a temporary measure, and would be re-evaluated after Dec. 31 to see if it was working as intended to keep COVID cases low through the fall and over the holiday season.
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter
Share this story:
<5
Subscribe
Notify of
48 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kal Itea

Absolutely idiotic! Come on Lethbridge we can do better than this. These ding-dongs are putting lives at risk. Disgusting.

IrritatedinLethbridge

So the president of the Lethbridge “Tough Guy” union believes he knows better than the WHO? Shocking….

h2ofield

Seeing as he got out of a sexual assault charge a few years ago in Oklahoma, I guess he thinks he can control anything.
Here we have this big tough guy whining about wearing mask to protect others. Shame on him!

Last edited 1 month ago by h2ofield
Anthony Hall

You must be very impoverished in your own knowledge of the subject, h2ofield, to have to resort to such a mean, gratuitous and undocumented attack on Mr. Mein. The subject has to do with masking, not the personal history of a particular individual.

ewingbt

We are in a pandemic with no vaccine. What part of this do these people not understand? They have the right to peaceful protest, but not to break the law and endanger everyone in that building. They should all be charged under the new bylaw . . . this is serious!
A cough or sneeze from someone with COVID can hang in a room for over 3 hours. People can have COVID, but show no symptoms, so why would I shop is a place that doesn’t respect my health, my childrens health or my families health?
COVID kills, it also causes many, teenagers and up included, to have lingering side effects, some life altering. I say again . . . what part of this do these people not understand?
Millions have died in this world already! Over 9,000 Canadians have died in less than a year! 247 Alberta’s have died in less than a year!
We normally follow Australia’s normal flu season in winter to see how Canada is impacted, and COVID in Australia spiked dramatically so that tells us we should expect that as well. Add to that the return to school ‘experiment’ which has already seen COVID cases in schools and we need to give this virus the respect that is warranted to prevent our economy being shut down again.
If we all behave ourselves, wash our hands regularly, social distance and wear masks while indoors or outdoors in close proximity, we may be able to get through this without shutting down schools, businesses, restaurants, etc., but we need to first acknowledge that this is serious and one of the most contagious viruses we have dealt with in Canada for some time!
Respect those around you and think about what you would think if one of those people that march around with no masks infected your loved one and they died or ended up with a life changing symptom that lasts for their lifetime, just because they ignored the reality of a pandemic!
An example needs to be set here and all of them need to charged. No worries, I won’t be entering your businesses to conduct business when you are not practicing safe health measures that protect me! I have refused several stores for this exact thing and shopped elsewhere or online!

h2ofield

“”Mein said his perspective on the scientific evidence suggests COVID is not as bad as government and health officials are making out.””

I think Dr. Mein has taken one too many blows to the head!

Last edited 1 month ago by h2ofield
Resolute

Attaboy Lee and other real Citizens of Lethbridge. Lets take back our City, our lives, our businesses and our freedom. Fire the lot of Council and those chicken#$&@ pansies that are so afraid of getting a cold they will destroy all our lives, mental health and social opportunities to di what Ben Franklin counseled against. You who would give up essential freedoms to purchase a little (and in this case fictitious and unproven) safety deserve neither freedom nor safety. Stay in your bubbles but let us live.

h2ofield

chicken#$&@ pansies “
Really, Resolute? I think that more describes those who won’t put a mask on…selfish a******s.



48
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x