June 24th, 2024

Crowd rallies at courthouse in support of Coutts trio


By Lethbridge Herald on November 4, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber A large crowd carries banners and flags at the Lethbridge courthouse Friday morning during a brief appearance by three southern Alberta men facing mischief charges related to the Coutts border blockade earlier this year.

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Hundreds of protesters and supporters of three men facing charges from the Coutts blockade packed the Lethbridge courthouse plaza Friday morning to show solidarity with the trio.

While the three faced a judge inside the courthouse, the peaceful yet boisterous crowd listened to various speakers speaking about vaccine mandates, freedoms and justice on a blustery windy morning. There was a heavy emphasis on prayer and God during the various talks.

A strong police force from various services in the province kept a watch on the crowd with members of the LPS lined up near the courthouse door before the three men entered.

Charged with mischief over $5000, Marco Van Huigenbos, 32, and 53-year-old Alex Van Herk of Fort Macleod along with Gerhard (George) Janzen, 43, of Taber, elected trial by judge and jury after an appearance.

Their next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 12 in Lethbridge.

LPS began preparing for a convoy that entered the city by placing police vehicles at various downtown intersections to ensure traffic could flow smoothly during the rally. Well before dawn, the police presence was visible in the downtown core.

A crew from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was singled out by one speaker named Grant Abraham for its reporting, with a crowd member pointing his hand at them so the crowd could identify them. The gesture was alarming, but one organizer intervened and thanked the network for showing up to the event, a message that seemed to quell hostility toward the journalists from that outlet.

Before and during the court appearance, prayers were given, and various speakers addressed the crowd on a microphone set up outside the courthouse doors.

Numerous Canadian flags waved in the breeze along with others denigrating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Crowd members carried various placards and during the talks by speakers in the crowd, loud calls of “Freedom!” often rang out.

The crowd was a wide mix of ages with people from teenagers to seniors on hand.

One former trucker from Calgary, standing on a planter carrying a Maple Leaf flag, said he felt vaccination requirements for truckers were unfair and he wanted to show his support to the trio. Another person told The Herald he came from Sparwood to voice his support.

One speaker told the crowd they are not the fringe minority.

“I don’t believe that we are the fringe minority, I think that the rest of them are the fringe minority because so many people have woken up. We need to continue to stick together across this nation no matter what happens. It’s times like this we can see the dedication and we’re pushing through and sticking together,” the man said while also talking about the power of prayer which was a common theme during the event. “We need to keep praying and keep this movement moving, keep it rollin’.”

One speaker said he had been at the Coutts blockade and “it was the first time that we were able to all be together without masks in one place and it felt great,” to huge applause.

Abraham, who earlier this year announced he was running for leadership of the federal Conservative party, said “I’m here to stand in solidarity with men that have stood up for truth and freedom.

He attacked the leadership of PM Trudeau, saying “everything we’ve known as Canadians and everything we love about this country is being eroded. Our privacy has been taken, our bank accounts have been frozen, we have unbelievable civil liberties that have been violated. We have seen our Charter have holes driven through it.”

He asked what took the government seven months to “figure out how to bring a mischief charge.

“What took David Lametti seven months to figure out how to do a mischief charge? A first-year cop knows how to write a ticket up for mischief in 10 minutes but Brenda Lucki and the RCMP and other police forces took seven months. I’d like to ask why the head officer of ‘K’ Division took seven months to bring this charge.”

“We’re here today because some people chose to stand up for truth.”

One of the men’s lawyers told the crowd “there will be no deals and no concessions of any kind” to applause.

He said he’d be here in Lethbridge for the Dec. 12 appearance.

All three of the men facing charges spoke briefly after they emerged from the courthouse before members of the crowd headed to a barbecue in the industrial area of the city at a trucking company.

Van Huigenbos, who is heading to Ottawa today to testify at the Emergencies Act inquiry, thanked the crowd for their support. He said while they may have disagreements, law enforcement had to be thanked as well for their role in keeping the event orderly.

“Above all, we have to thank God. That’s why we’re here, right? All glory goes to him. Tomorrow I leave to Ottawa so I’m a little stressed out” adding 10 months ago he could never have imagined his current situation, never mind being put in front of the country.

“I’m just a small town Albertan who’s raising a family.”

Van Herk said “we’re not standing here alone, we’re in this together,” adding many supporters who couldn’t attend the appearance were there in spirit, saying he’d had numerous emails on Friday.

“This needs to end as soon as possible.”

Janzen said “this is a fight between good and evil and we’re on the winning side.”

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Ron Christensen

Gooberville

Fescue

‘Fight between good and evil’ … Hmmm … I’m inclined to fearing them.

HaroldP

It was difficult to tell, but there were probably over 1,000 in attendance. Peaceful, prayerful and respectful. We were there to show support for the three being held to trial for simply standing up for freedom. “If you don’t stand for something you could fall for everything!” This is history in the making, Souhern Albertans and Lethbridgites are indeed standing tall and righteously for all of us. As Peter Van Leir prayed yesterday at the Court house, “God keep our land glorious and free.”

Last edited 1 year ago by HaroldP
SophieR

It will be interesting how this extemist fringe will talk around their defence the (alleged) Koutts Kop-Killer Konspiracy.

Let’s face it, these stumabteilung are active and dangerous to democracy and civil society.

Southern Albertan

Agreed…it seems they do not know what they do not know, i.e.being influenced by the American christian dominionist movement, not realizing that in other countries including The Netherlands (of which may be a common ancestry for some of these folks), that they would be arrested and jailed immediately there. It’s no wonder The Netherlands has big steel cylinders in their roads surrounding their parliament buildings in The Hague which are raised to prevent exactly what happened to our undefended capital, Ottawa, in Canada. Canada, et al, has much to learn from behavior like this.

johnny57

Don’t you find it completely amazing when people stand-up for their rights within a so-called “Free Country” or whether they are a newly minted leader in a province they are quickly denounced as extremist or radical. The woke-cancer needs to be cut-out of our society before the disease infects EVERY aspect of our life! Which at this point is not too far away.

SophieR

The thing is, j57, these people are not ‘standing up’ for a Free Country. At best, they are testing the limits of one.

I believe that the extreme right are (and have historically been) the harbingers of authoritarianism – the complete opposite of the words they use to get there.

And, frankly, I don’t even understand their grievances. Here we have one if the most entitled groups of people within one of most the affluent nations on earth complaining about- what? – wearing masks in indoor public space? Taking a vaccination? Enduring elected parliamentarians they don’t like? It’s incomprehensible. It’s absurd.

I expect these people will get a fair trial. And if they are convicted, I hope this mob will accept it. I doubt they will, because they don’t understand what makes a Free Country free – the rule of law.

Last edited 1 year ago by SophieR
johnny57

Mob??? That word could not be farther from the truth! Let’s use the word supporters or even misguided supporters if you like.
I first-hand saw what the extreme “Left” was capable of doing during the BLM riots down south, and as bad as we thought the so-called occupation of Ottawa got, I did not see any cities including our nation’s capital “Torched.”
So as bad as you think the extreme “Right” is or can get they need to get a lot more radical before they get anywhere near the Loonie-Left!

biff

you are among the many that have a most naive take on the state, its players, and most frightening, the ones that control the game that are far removed from public accountability. that is to say, they control the wealth, the rules, the message, and yet they are not subject to the electoral process. then again, the electoral process is now more a farce than ever…take a good look at the likes of “leadership” that the system gives us.

SophieR

Hi biff. I don’t believe that I have ever expressed an opinion on the nature of power in this forum. You may underestimate me. In fact, from my observations, I would say we share some views.

Be that as it may, one thing that I am articulating is that these reactionaries are being encouraged to act in ways (irrational and violent) that threaten civil society. And we know from history that things don’t go well for anybody when this veneer is pulled back. Those who think they will come out of the chaos better off are usually mortally disappointed – take the billionaire class building self-sustaining enclaves in New Zealand, for example … But, I digress.

biff

agreed – violence is not the answer. nor is the stifling of inherent rights by the power mongers, whatever side of the “spectrum” they believe they be. with regard to the protests in question, it is too simple to group all those calling forced covid vaxing as part of a bigger, violent plot to overthrow govt. there were extremists in the mix, but that does not mean all those attending supported the extremist elements. it is my take that most did not.
you note civil society – but is that an honest and accurate claim? the gross disparities, the massive destruction of our natural systems, the constant warmongering (no, not here; we are spared as the sickos manage well to keep that reality away from the so-called first world) that feeds the industrial military complex that lines the pockets of the wealthiest…who also happen to be those that truly make the rules but are outside the realm of public accountability.
back to ottawa, and coutts: those were not violent protests. they were inconvenient, they challenged tolerance, but they were safe. if there was no horn honking, then how bad was it really?
i think protests are the sign of the times – not that people are more uncivil than ever before, but, like in revolutionary france, and in numerous states today, the people are becoming aware they are hardly free and enfranchised. the degree to which power and greed are taking over is not lost on some.

SophieR

Some challenging thoughts, biff: are we better off trying to improve from where we are at (as pathetic as it is, as you’ve said), or do we let it collapse under its own weight of corruption, inequality, and the destruction of natural systems?

If the latter is the direction taken, who will take power? The only reason these past events haven’t taken a more violent turn is their lack of leadership – mostly loud voices without a strategy. Someone will eventually fill the gap. The mob – gullible, angry, and prepped for violence – are waiting …

Now the progressive side is also quite unprepared for this. No leadership, and no coherence, lacking agency while wallowing in an array of issues. Waiting in vain for goverments to do something. These types are usually swept away in times of crisis.

What is to be done?

Last edited 1 year ago by SophieR
biff

sophie – you present excellent points, observations and queries. historically, paradigm shifts around social, political, and economic issues have rarely come without some calamitous consequences. and today, we must further factor in the likes of environmental-ecological/sustainability, and even technological challenges with regard to change and our way forward.
my take at this juncture is if we simply wait, we will inherent, but it will not be a rewarding legacy. the power structure is hardly hinged to fairness, compassion, and sustainability.
however, if are going to start to draw lines in the sand on various issues, we had best, as franklin covey has noted, “begin with the end in mind.” thus, merely reactive approaches will not likely get us what and to where we want. and, your point about power – power vacuums – is significant.
with regard to the protests in question, as with all actions, it is not at all wise or decent to harm or otherwise seriously disrupt people that have nothing to do with the decisions and actions that one is opposing and wishes to change.
thank you for taking the time here to share your wisdom on this. complex issues in very complex times.

Southern Albertan

These 3 are charged with ‘Mischief over $5000.’ In Canada it is an indictable offense which, if not defended successfully, can result in jail time, a criminal record, fines, probation….It is no small thing. It may be, that in this case the ‘mischief’ was the illegal blockade/obstruction of property. It needs to be understood that being anti-vaccine/mandate should not be the free-for-all that it ended up being. This is also a reminder of the disturbing christian dominionist movement which has arisen in the USA and has by all appearances raised its ugliness here. These folks were ‘free’ to make the ‘choice’ of being anti-vaccine/mandate.
What is interesting is that many of them are not, anti-treatment, particularly ending up in ICU on a ventilator with covid-induced ARDS (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome). According to Dr. Darren Markland who is an ICU doctor in Edmonton, these cases in their ICU are increasing again now, and, sadly, these patients are the unvaccinated who they are struggling to keep alive. The care, education, and expertise required by these doctors, registered and licenced practical nurses, health care aides, respiratory therapists, lab and x-ray technicians, social workers, pastoral care, pharmacists, i.e. the whole medical team…..cannot be understated.

Mrs. Kidd (she/her)

By respectful I guess you’re expecting us to ignore the “F**k Trudeau” flag, or that at some point a CBC crew was called out by one of the protesters, causing them some concern.

HaroldP

Were you at the peaceful, prayerful show of support at the courthouse? I was, never saw any “Traw Dow” flags as you depict….yes, the later identified CBC crew were there, at first no one knew who these people were, shoving their cameras into the faithful supporters faces. This was rather rude and unapprecisted, but then from the podium they were identified and welcomed by all. There were intimidating drones flying above the peaceful and prayerful assembly, who had the drones? Did you know it is illegal to launch drones within the metron of an sirport?

Last edited 1 year ago by HaroldP
Mrs. Kidd (she/her)

Yes, I was.

HaroldP

You “were” at the support rally at the court house? If so, why would you be there taking into consideration your comments that you are making? Test question if you were indeed there, “What type of hat was Peter Van Liere wearing?”

Mrs. Kidd (she/her)

Not that I owe you an explanation, but I stopped by because I was curious and wanted to see the event for myself. I wasn’t there all that long.

As for your other question, I kept my distance and didn’t get all the names largely because I have a hearing disability, but if Mr. Van Lier is the person I’m thinking of, he wasn’t wearing a hat when I saw him. It looked like it was in his jacket pocket.

HaroldP

Mr. Van Liere was promonent and he was always wearing his distinctive hat, anyone at the rally would know him he was on the podium and he was the one who led in Prayers. Were you really there? (Or were you just Mrs. “kidding”?)

Last edited 1 year ago by HaroldP
JimO

Canada is becoming more and more like American fools. Makes me embarrassed to fly a Canadian flag that I served under for 37 years. They give freedom a bad taste in my mouth.

buckwheat

A simple show of support turns into the usual anti religion, right wing fringe comments. Dare any of you to go to a loading dock at three in the morning in a blizzard and complain about fringe groups. Speaking of fringe groups it would be interesting to see the comments on pipeline blockades, car burnings, homeless killing cops,etc in BC. Right wing fringe group or left wing nut jobs. Take your pick.

SophieR

I guess it is a fair comparison, buckwheat: “I don’t want to wear a mask” vs. “I don’t want the planet to burn.”

biff

this was well beyond masking – i know you know that.