'Don't go to these rallies': Saskatoon mayor says anti-mask event organizers should be 'held to account'
SASKATOON -- With another protest taking aim at COVID-19 health measures poised to happen in the city this weekend, Saskatoon's mayor is asking anyone thinking of attending to steer clear of the event.
"You have people going out into the streets, encouraging people not to follow the rules, encouraging people not to wear the mask, undermining the nurses and the doctors and the health care workers," Charlie Clark told CTV News Tuesday. "I find it very frustrating."
The planned "freedom" rally comes on the heels of a similar event held on Saturday outside the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, where one speaker made racist comments directed at the province's Chief Medical Health Officer, Saqib Shahab.
Police in Regina fined two organizers of the rally $2,800 each.
While another anti-mask event held a week prior in Saskatoon on Dec. 5 did not result in fines, police indicated further action could come after an investigation. In November, a key participant in an anti-mask protest at Midtown Plaza was fined $2,800, nearly a week after the event took place.
During his interview with Morning Live anchor Stephanie Massicotte, Clark said he is in favour of stronger enforcement when it comes to the events.
"I encourage and hope that there will be investigations into these rallies and that the organizers and will be held to account as a result of breaking the rules in terms of the public health guidelines," Clark said.
Clark also expressed discomfort with the conspiratorial tenor of the events, where some participants have hoisted signs bearing messages such as "vaccine = population control" and "masks harm gov't lying."
"I ask anybody who is receiving messages conspiracy theory-type messages online, or all of this misinformation that is spreading around the internet, take a second look at what you're hearing. Give your head a shake, think about the fact that 11 people died on Saturday," Clark said.
"This is about protecting your parents and your grandparents, and the vulnerable people in our society. We just have to get through the next few months and so I ask the citizens of Saskatoon, don't go to these rallies, don't participate."