By Dale Woodard on January 13, 2021.
A group frustrated with the restrictions, mandatory masks and the shutting down of local businesses due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic staged a protest in front of Lethbridge City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
A group of roughly 40 protestors dubbed “WethepeopleYQL” gathered near the front steps of City Hall for a Freedom Rally with signs stating “No more lying 2021!!”, “We The People YQL” “Freedom is Mandatory” and “Keep Canada Free” in a roughly one hour demonstration which, aside from one counter protestor, remained peaceful.
Meanwhile, members of Lethbridge Police Service maintained a presence off in the distance as the crowd listened to guest speakers.
Speaking at the rally, Paul Hinman, Interim leader of the Wild Rose Independence Party of Alberta called for an end to the lockdown.
“This idea that somehow this virus is the be-all and end-all is destroying people’s lives, the virus is not nearly as deadly as the lockdown,” he said. “The intrusion on individual’s lives and the fact they can’t go to church or the kids can’t go to school or play in the playground with their friends and can’t participate in sports, there are just so many personal freedoms that have been taken away by this municipal, provincial and federal government. We need to have that awareness and people don’t realize the lives that that are being destroyed and the long-term impact and the fact these children having to wear masks at school.
“It originally started and we understand at first we didn’t know what was happening and the curve and the overwhelming of the health care system. But they’ve done nothing to make it more robust and in increase capacity and here almost a year later they’re now saying we need to reduce the cases. It used to be about flattening the curve, now it’s reducing the cases. It needs to come to an end, it’s doing far more damage than good.”
Premier Jason Kenney announced last Thursday the current COVID-19 lockdown rules would continue until at least Jan. 21, while students headed back to schools Monday as planned.
The province brought in stricter measures a month ago, which included a ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings and sharply reduced capacity in retail stores.
Hinman spoke of the local business owners being shut down.
“They’re losing their businesses, their taxes, their employees,” he said. “Their costs are going up and their utilities are up there, but they’re told they have to be shut down. What percentage are going to lose their livelihoods and their buinesses? Too many, in my opinion. We’re not safer because of the 20 businesses that have been shut down.”
At Tuesday’s rally, concerns over mandatory health measures surrounding the pandemic were expressed to the LPS, who said in a statement the matter is currently under investigation and charges may be pending.
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