Next weekend, there are a series of so-called freedom rallies planned for our region, around Ontario, and across the country. Perhaps as a warm up act, or perhaps just to warm up, about two dozen people gathered at Wellington Street and Gordon Street to protest the new provincial lockdowns, vaccine mandates, masking rules, and the general malaise of the pandemic.
Between 20 and 30 people showed up. Some came with signs, others just came with their curiosity or their umbrage. “I’m here because I’m sick of this shit like a lot of people, let’s just face it,” said Tim Cook, who came from Kitchener to join the Guelph protest. “Look, here we are nearly two years later, we got people wearing masks outside. No one’s shown me how these are effective virus protective measures.”
“I just believe that we have the freedom to do what we want with our body, which was always good up until the COVID came along,” said Gary Langdon “If you were against ‘my body, my choice’ you were frowned on, and now, all of a sudden, ‘my body, my choice’ doesn’t matter.”
Landgon is representative of a lot of people who come to these gatherings. He’s frustrated with the changing information of the pandemic, and he’s skeptical of both government authority and the advise of experts, and notes the lack of a unifying message between all media sources.
“I don’t trust the government, I don’t trust big pharma, I don’t believe they care about us at all,” Langdon said. “I don’t know how to find a site to trust, or know how to debunk anything, the only thing I know is my own body, and I know that when the government tells me you have to take this [vaccine] or your freedoms are taken away, I have a choice, and I’m lucky that I’m retired because if I was working I might have to take it.”
Uncertainty about who to trust is common. Cook explained that he doesn’t have a TV, and he that doesn’t read the paper. He does however listen to podcasts by Joe Rogan and Mark Devlin, both recognized sources for misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines, as well as peddlers of conspiracy theories. Devlin, a radio host based in the U.K., is a music journalist who has added the fight against tyranny, meaning COIVD-19 restrictions, to his repertoire.
Lack of trust in the media is also a local matter. Dave Driver, who is a familiar face in the Guelph-based anti-lockdown movement, was none too pleased to see members of the media at the protest though it was advertised on social media. He accused the reporters present of spying on his Facebook page, and accused them of killing children and ignoring the fact that hospital is only pretending to be busy fighting COVID-19.
“Go on up to the hospital report some real fucking news,” Driver said. “Fuck off, you’re not welcome.”
There was not much in the way of a formal program, though someone did bring a portable loud speaker. It was used to play music instead. The protesters stood along the roadside with their signs, some people honked their horns in support, some people stopped to find out what one sign in particular meant when using the term “clot shot”.
Shelaw Hunter, who is an organizer with the local anti-lockdown movement, was handing out an information sheet that went even further than “clot shot”. The allegation is that everything is going according to plan, international agencies like the United Nations and the World Health Organization are colluding to override national autonomy, and everyone is in on it.
“There is something ugly going on here… Justin Trudeau, Doug Ford, Cam Guthrie-Mayor, Mike Schreiner-MPP & Lloyd Longfield-MP are ALL being paid to implement this foreign policy without your knowledge, violating established Canadian law, trust laws and basic inherent rights,” the sheet said. “This is treason. It is time to get informed, involved & ACTIVE in stopping this tyrannical takeover of our freedoms!”
This may sound crazy to you, and you may be asking yourself how does someone start thinking this way. “I’m tired of it, really tired of it, because I know it’s all wrong,” Hunter said.
Remember Langdon and Cook saying that they don’t trust traditional sources of information, the media, governments, and the health care industry. Now add a stresser, something like the changing conditions of the pandemic, lockdowns, and vaccine mandates. Or, perhaps you were already under personal stress. For Hunter, she said it was a “nasty” foreclosure of her home in 2010, and then something in her just clicked.
“I realized the whole banking industry was corrupt, the whole justice system was corrupt, the whole municipal, the whole police was corrupt, and then to follow it down to the insurance companies, and then to see Agenda 21 and how it just trickled down, from global to local, through the equity organizations, through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and how all of a sudden the United Nations is here on our land, telling us what to do,” Hunter said.
“All of this is based on consent, and only consent,” Hunter added. “People need to wake up, pull together and know that this is not about division and viruses and vaccines, it’s about the fact that our sovereignty, our country, has been usurped by the corporate elite that want to control us and tag us.”
Another event is being planned for this coming Saturday at 2 pm outside City Hall. A post on the Guelph Freedom Rally Facebook page says 2021 PPC candidate Josh Leier, and University of Waterloo biochemisty prof Michael Palmer are apparently going to be speakers. Palmer has teamed up with a group called Children’s Health Defense Canada to oppose vaccine mandates, and he’s previously quoted as saying that COVID-19 is a “fake emergency.”
Although no specific speaker is listed, the Freedom Rally page also promises an appearance by the group, Police On Guard For Thee. The group claims to be made up of active and retired police officers who believe that enforcing COVID-19 restrictions infringes on their oath to the job, and the freedoms outlined in the Charter. Last year, 19 officers – 15 active, four retired – filed a constitutional challenge in the Superior Court of Justice saying that lockdowns were tantamount to martial law, and that the masking and social distance were “ineffective”. These claims have not been proven in court.