OTTAWA -- Just days after Premier Doug Ford imposed sweeping new restrictions on businesses in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa, to try to bring down soaring rates of COVID-19 infections, anti-masking protesters targeted Ford at his home in west Toronto over Thanksgiving weekend. 

“We have the anti-maskers showing up to my house again, you know flying the flag upside down…you want to disrespect our country and our flag…get going, take off, leave,” Ford said.

“You can be a denier, you can be an anti-masker. You can be whatever. This is a democratic country. You can say what you want, but I’m just coming up here and telling you what I know,” Ford said.

While overall public support for wearing masks is very strong, there appears to be a growing frustration with public health measures, especially the new lockdowns on businesses and restrictions on gatherings in Peel, Toronto and Ottawa.

In Ottawa, one of the worst hit cities in the country during the second wave, by-law officers have had to step up enforcement of bans on large indoor parties, and the city’s transit service has begun fining people for not wearing masks on buses and trains. Until this week, passengers not wearing masks were given a warning.

A recent poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, showed that support for wearing masks is getting stronger in Canada. Eighty-three per cent of respondents feel governments should order people to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

That represents an increase of 16 per cent from July.

Most skeptics have kept their protests online, suggesting the pandemic is being exaggerated by politicians, health officials and the media.

Ford said the decision to re-impose lockdowns on hotspots in the province was the hardest decision he has had to make.

“It’s easy to armchair quarterback. I have some people saying I should have done it sooner, other people saying I should have never done it…just open up everything and let everyone go hog wild, and I have to get the ship down the middle of the lane there and make the best decision that I can”, Ford said.

“There is no agenda. I’m the last guy in the world who would put up with that. I’m here to protect the people of Ontario, to keep them safe.”