Saturday in the Park - By Matt Dougherty
It was a beautiful day at Queen's Park on Saturday, as the rain clouds held their spring showers and the air was crisp but warm. I hopped out of an Uber a couple minutes past noon, wishing my driver a busy and safe day after spending the last 20 minutes discussing how slow he had been the past month and his inability to qualify for EI.
I arrived to see at least 400 people congregated on the steps of the legislature. The protest was put together by at least 2 other groups besides ours, with little organization but a common ground of protesting the lockdown and its infringement on Section 2 Charter freedoms, and effects on the health and financial wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Ontarians.
Taking the now rare opportunity to both get some fresh air AND enjoy social interaction, I made my way around the crowd taking in how diverse the make up of protesters was from all walks of life, young and old, students and small business owners and stay at home moms.
As chants of "Open Up Ontario" rang through the air, the mass of people and signs made their way towards the sidewalk around Queen's Park Circle, where the majority of the protesters spent the remainder of the afternoon. Much to my surprise, the next hour was spent watching the vast majority of passing cars honk in support of the protest.
As with any public demonstration, the day was not without its share of crazies. I got an earful from a woman who I must assume was an outside agitator claiming "I had already been microchipped", there was another young lady with a sign blaming it on 5G, and the media appears to have latched on to man offering free hugs (though I was present the entirety of the protest and never saw him).
The police presence, though unnecessarily heavy, was very peaceful and respectful. No fines or threats were issued by any, and the only verbal interaction I witnessed was a very polite peace officer asking a group to clear the path to the legislature, which they did immediately without question. Doug Ford claimed afterwards to have no authority over the police and wished they would do their jobs. I would like to then thank Police Chief Mark Saunders, and his officers for taking it upon themselves to be more respectful of our right to peaceful assembly than our Premier.
The conversation ranged from theories about the what and why of the virus, whether the housing bubble would withstand the lockdown, cryptocurrency, agorism, and the recent gun ban. I ran into former candidates from the OLP and PPC, as well as regulars from the monthly Libertarian pub night.
I plugged our petition to end the lockdown (which is at www.freethepeople.ca, if you havent yet signed it please do) to all I spoke to, which also got great reception. The plan is to return next weekend, and every Saturday henceforth until Ontario is actually "Open for business" once again. I will be out there, I hope to see as many of you as well. Be well