The Guelph edition of this weekend’s nation-wide protest against anti-lockdown measures and vaccine mandates was the largest such gathering in Guelph yet, and the emboldened crowd made it a road show. After hearing speeches in front of City Hall, a few hundred people marched up Wyndham Street, and entered Old Quebec Street maskless as an act of organized defiance.
After the speeches wrapped at around 3:15 pm, the group left Market Square and headed up Wyndham Street chanting “Freedom!” While the majority of people kept to the sidewalks on either side of the road, several members of the group took to the streets. Most cars patiently waited behind, but others went around in an automotive expression of frustration.
When the crowd then gathered again in front of Old Quebec Street, they started chanting “Freedom over fear!” and they all headed into the mall cheering and telling masked people to show everyone their smile. One woman was heard to say, “I’m glad we’re finally doing this.”
Patrons of the Old Quebec Street stores, and some of the shop owners and employees, came out to watch the protesters go by, and they seemed more than a little confused by the ruckus. The demonstration then headed down the side hallway and exited on the Sleeman Centre side of the building. As the crowd moved up Woolwich Street, Old Quebec Street’s security guard was coming down from the western end of the building to see what all the fuss was about, but the fuss was long gone. It was all over in less than eight minutes.
Out on Wyndham, the protest had come full circle. After travelling up Douglas, they crossed the street and walked up Quebec. This time, they stuck to the sidewalk, or the side of the road, and did not interference with traffic, but perhaps that was owed to the one Guelph Police patrol car that was now shadowing the march. They continued down Norfolk Street, now over 90 minutes from when they started, but with less people than when it began.
It’s not easy spending over 90 minutes in the cold January weather, but somehow 300 people were up for it at the beginning of the rally in front of City Hall. The surprisingly large gathering was augmented by out-of-town guests (the Waterloo rally was scheduled for Sunday afternoon), and perhaps some curious people who wanted to see why there were hundreds of people hanging around in the cold on Carden Street.
Musician and model Noah Weafs, aka: Vlad Kondratov, was once again the emcee, but for this march there were some genuine celebrities from the movement who took part. The first speaker was 2021 People’s Party candidate for Guelph Josh Leier, and he was the only person to speak about issue behind this weekend’s rally, the mandatory vaccination policy for the nation’s truckers.
“If Trudeau had his way, not only will our truckers be out of work, but there’ll be no food left for us to buy,” Leier said in the first and and last reference to truckers, 75 per cent of whom are fully vaccinated according to the latest survey by the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada.
For the most part, Leier talked about his personal experience during the pandemic. He claimed that he got the virus at the start of the pandemic saying that he had a headache, a fever, and his fingers started to turn blue. He also said that he went to the hospital, but he was “back to normal” after a few days.
He then explained how his refusal to get vaccinated has seen him lose friends, lose work, and forced him and his wife to enjoy their anniversary dinner on a cold patio instead of the warm indoor dining room of a restaurant, but he said that there are just certain principles he wouldn’t break.
“I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution. Here’s one of my principles. Whether I’m vaccinated or not, I will never consent to the government tracking and tracing me like an inmate in a free society,” Leier said.
While Leier did correctly note that the COVID-19 response has not done much to address long-term systemic issues in the healthcare system, he also name dropped several conspiracy theories including Agenda 2021, Agenda 2030, “the Great Reset”, and this trend of soccer players dropping dead on the field because they received the vaccine.
This last point was a hot topic of conversation, which completely ignores the fact that about a dozen soccer players have died while playing every year for the last 10 years. (In fact, there’s a Wikipedia page listing soccer players who have died while playing.)
Leier ended his speech with the usual vaccine hesitancy talking points – it’s experimental (it’s not), it’s gene therapy (it’s also not), it’s killing athletes (see above), and we don’t know the long-term consequences. “It’s easy to turn a blind eye and look the other way and just follow society by complying, but we’re paving the way for a very dark future for our children unless we say, ‘No more. I’m sticking to my principles. Enough is enough!'”
There were big cheers for Leier, but there were even bigger cheers for Dr. Michael Palmer, a biochemistry professor from the University of Waterloo. Palmer has previously 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.” He told the Guelph crowd exactly where he was coming from.
“I’m not afraid of that word, I am a proud conspiracy theorist,” Palmer said.
Paradoxically, Palmer, who is a trained medical doctor, also called the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines gene therapy, and he said that the only way that the Food and Drug Administration another regulatory agencies approved the vaccine was because “somebody must have held a gun to the head or to some other very sensitive location.”
Palmer then began what sounded like a biochemistry lecture that only anyone with science credentials could have made heads or tails of. Even the crowd, at this point standing in the cold and snow for over an hour, seemed to lose interest in Palmer’s speech. Before he was done though, Palmer returned to conspiracies.
“They are backing off the COVID, but they are going to convert to something else so we have to be prepared for them,” Palmer said. The “they” are the governments who are trying to change society with COVID restrictions, and who are now realizing that too many people are cluing in to the supposed scam.
“When the whole truth about his COVID thing gets exposed, everybody needs to be brought to justice. All the people who have co-operated in it, and all the people who have knowingly contributed and done their part to impose this crime on the people,” Palmer said. “Everybody has to be exposed. All the casualties have to be enumerated and named, and the entire crime has to be exposed to its full extent. I think it is important for us to prevent the next onslaught of tyranny on all of us.”
Still, there was some conspiracy debunking at the rally too. Susanne Coles, a paralegal based in Owen Sound who has appeared at Waterloo Freedom Rallies and was even interviewed in a segment on Rebel News about the alleged violation of civil liberties during the pandemic, was anti-mandate, but also anti-Queen of Canada.
“I just want to clarify for you, the only Queen of Canada is Elizabeth, and she don’t live here. So if you see anything going on about Queen Romana, who is the Queen of Canada, please stop sharing that information,” Coles said referring to Romana Didulo, the self-declared Queen of Canada who has a huge following of QAnon adherents and has called for the execution of anyone vaccinating children.
An older woman in a big green coat took exception to that, but Coles was firm adding that the International Criminal Court is legitimate, there’s no such thing as a common law court, and that no one can just go around and start their own court of law.
“Having hope is really important, but having false hope and getting it dashed is way more dangerous than having no hope at all,” Coles said. “There are people who are using the fact that a lot of you are desperate, that a lot of you a lot of you are afraid, and they’re using that to manipulate you.”
“We are standing here trying to fight the wrong information related to the vaccine, and the last thing we need to be doing is stooping to their level and passing around wrong information about the law,” Coles added.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of that at the rally. Val
Fair Fayer*, a Guelph representative of the group Action4Canada, introduced the crowd to “Notices of Liability”, the exact legal definition of which can’t be found on the Action4Canada webpage, and Val didn’t have one either. She did however explain who the notices were for.
“You have to pick somebody that is harming you, and it’s not very difficult,” Val explained. “You can pick members of the media who are basically propagandizing against your rights and freedoms. You can pick school teachers, superintendents, principals, all the way up the line to the ministry. You can pick Nicola Mercer, our supposed public health minister who, on her agenda is, I believe, is the slaughter of five to 11 year olds in our town.”
Dr. Nicola Mercer is the Medical Officer of Health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and killing kids is not her agenda. Val also indicated that people were going into schools to vaccinate children without parents knowledge or consent, put the only vaccines given out at schools was a community clinic John F. Ross Secondary School set up over the holidays to hand out boosters.
As for those notices, according to University of British Columbia law professor Debra Parkes a “notice of liability” is not a valid legal term, or anything resembling a legal action. “It’s not a thing in law and I’m not aware of any legal effect for a document like this,” Parkes told the CBC. “I assume it’s just an attempt to use a legal term like ‘liability’ that implies that there’s some responsibility under the law.”
More concerning than the fact that Action4Canada is offering fake legal documents to people who are looking for ways to take action against measures they feel are oppressive, is the fact that Action4Canada was spun off from ACT! For Canada. According to Anti-Hate Canada, ACT was modelled on an American anti-Muslim hate group called ACT! For America, they started by sharing anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and other Islamophobia, and would later segue into anti-2SLGBTQ+ and transphobic rhetoric.
In fact, “Political Islam” and “Political LGBTQ” are still listed on the Action4Canada website under their Calls to Action even though most of their focus these days is on COVID-19.
The last speaker was Terri Haydar, who is a former corrections officer that’s affiliated with Police on Guard for Thee and its offshoot, the Mama Bears Project. Police On Guard For Thee 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.
“Across the country today, there are active duty officers at all of these rallies. We have two active duty officers speaking in Ottawa today, so know that we are here are with you,” Haydar said. “We are working diligently to bring democracy back to Canada, and when that guy who calls himself our Prime Minister came out and said that all federal and federally-regulated employees had to take the jab, Police on Guard said ‘No.'”
Haydar was also fronting for the Mama Bears Project, an offshoot of Police on Guard for Thee started by “concerned parents” that want to “provide valuable and insightful resources” to parents about the vaccine, but their “educational” materials including links to groups like Vaccine Choice Canada, Action4Canada, and OpenVAERS, which claims to be using data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) but cherry picks the examples that cast the COVID-19 vaccines in the worst possible light.
“Thank you to all the Canadian doctors that are standing strong. It’s because of those brave doctors that we can share this information, because there are so many of them that are screaming from the rooftops of the dangers around these jabs for the kids,” Haydar said. “Let’s save our children! God bless you, God bless Canada, and remember we need our freedom back!”
*Updated on January 25 to show the correct spelling of the name.