Small turnout at Ottawa anti-lockdown protest
OTTAWA -- About 20 people rallied downtown on Saturday calling for COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted.
The protesters gathered on Wellington Street near Parliament Hill to speak out against the measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying they are too restrictive.
The rally took place despite the province’s emergency orders that ban gatherings of more than five people. Violations carry a maximum $880 fine.
“We haven’t been able to play in our parks, play in our field... we have been approached by bylaw by simply going outside to get fresh air,” said Leslie Platius, who attended the rally with her 10-year-old son and newborn.
Other attendees expressed concern about the restrictions' long-term effects on the economy.
"It is causing more harm than good to people,” said Jocelyn, who didn’t give her last name. “Particularly the marginalized people in society because they can't recover as quickly as the rest can.”
Ottawa Police said no tickets were issued to anyone in the group on Saturday.
The rally mirrored a larger anti-lockdown protest at Queen’s Park in Toronto, where more than 100 people gathered for the second straight weekend.
Premier Doug Ford blasted those protesters on Saturday for flying the Canadian flag upside down.
"“What just burns me up more than anything, more than them standing out there, is I look out the window and I see our Canadian flag being flown upside down,” he said.
Last week, Ford called the first group of protesters "a bunch of yahoos" and decried their actions as "irresponsible, reckless and selfish."
There have been anti-lockdown protests in several U.S. states including Michigan, when gun-toting protests attempted to storm the state capitol.
The protesters in Ottawa said they plan to return for another rally next weekend.
- With files from The Canadian Press