So our police service is not going to release the names of those charged for attending anti-vaccine and anti-mask protests held in this city.
And , more importantly, they also are not going to release the names of those who organize such events.
I find this hard to understand.
These people are flouting the law that has been put in place to protect us all from a deadly virus. Surely some thought should be given to naming them as a deterrence, since the fines, which total $880 when taxes are included, don’t seem to be doing the job.
But police seem to believe naming the organizers or those who attend could lead to violence.
“Obviously, there is a public safety element here,” spokesperson Lincoln Louttit was quoted as saying after one of the protests at Belleue Park. “We understand COVID and the provincial restrictions are creating tension in the community and some folks are a little bit agitated by some of this. We feel that naming people is not in the best interest of public safety, theirs as well as everybody else’s in the community.”
I think that is a stretch. As much as I abhor those who are against the vaccines and the wearing of masks, I can’t see anyone in this city actually attacking someone physically for the stands they have taken.
And after all, it is not as if the media can’t name them. Sault This Week has already named Frasier Keaney as one of the organizers ticketed.
I probably don’t care all that much about naming those who are just attending the events, but then I think that with most of them being maskless, they could still spread the disease even though it is not as transmissible outside.
But when it comes to those organizing such events, I believe that for the charging process to be fully transparent, they should be named.
The fact is that they have embarked on a dangerous exercise, encouraging human sheep to follow them down a road that is fraught with danger for us all.
The $10,000 fine for such an infraction tells us the importance the government attaches to the offence.
I was actually surprised to see about a dozen people attend a protest at Bellevue Park on Saturday, considering police had ticked organizers and attendees at a protest at the same spot the previous Saturday. Police had also taken photographs of those attending a protest at the park on April 1, planning to charge those they could identify. They also had charged those who had attended a protest on Station Mall grounds in April.
Considering the monetary loss these people are willing to accept, it is obvious they feel strongly that their rights are being trampled by the government.
But then, of course, those of us on the other side are just as strong in our views.
We want the virus gone and are prepared to accept the moves we believe are necessary to bring this about.
I support Premier Doug Ford and his decision to extend the lockdown under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act because the numbers of new cases province wide daily just aren’t coming down that quickly, still in the 2,500 area as I write this. If you will recall, we were down under 900 when he opened up the last time, allowing us to rocket up to 4,500 new cases a day in fairly short order.
I also support the fact that areas of the province that are not affected so deeply by the virus, such as the Sault area, should receive special status, being allowed to reopen while others remain closed.
I believe we are all in this fight together and if we stay locked down together, we will win together.
And simply because we in the Sault area are doing well now does not say that will remain the case if we open up too soon.
Back to the fines for a bit, some of those charged may believe that they may never have to pay anyway.
The Toronto Star reported recently that by the end of January only 990 of the 5,584 charges laid since March 2020 had been dealt with — fines being paid, the charges withdrawn or another disposition.. A total of $469,839 in fines had been paid across the province at that time, which meant that hundreds of thousands of dollars were still to be collected.
In regard to naming those who face charges, it is a mixed bag. A look around the Internet shows some police forces releasing names.
I thought a couple of them revealed police overstepping the bounds in regard to the charges laid.
The CBC reported on the case of Dylan Finlay, a Toronto criminal lawyer, who was ticketed for briefly using a chin-up bar while jogging through Centennial Park in Etobicoke. He said there were no signs at the time saying that the chin-up bar was off-limits, and the park was open for people to walk or jog through.
Finlay received a ticket for $880 and says he intends to fight it, although he is not sure on what grounds.
Another charge I considered frivolous involved a couple from Kingsville, south of Windsor, who during the previous lockdown went for a drive and stopped in a church parking lot to play Pokemon Go. .
The CBC reported that Matthew Steeves and his wife were issued a ticket with its attendant $880 cost by a Ontario Provincial Police officer who had pulled in behind them. They said the officer then told them their trip wasn’t essential and handed them a fine for violating lockdown restrictions.
Some in the media rail against the lockdown, criticizing Ford for a lack of imagination, yet they offer no solutions themselves.
I say cut him some slack. He is commander-in-chief in a battle none of us have ever seen before and one that, like all battles, won’t be won without suffering some pain.