'I stood up for something': Why a Saskatoon cop says he quit after he was spotted at anti-COVID rule 'freedom rally'
SASKATOON -- A Saskatoon police officer who attended a children’s "freedom rally" says he decided to resign in order to stand up against the service’s protocols.
Last week, Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) said it was investigating whether an off-duty officer attended the anti-COVID health measure event at Kiwanis Park.
In a Facebook video, Nathan Lynchuk introduces himself as the cop who attended the April 24 rally while off-duty.
The event was advertised as a fun day in the park for children and had about 100 attendees gather for games and crafts without masks.
"I wanted my family to have a normal day for once, and for my kids to go into a park and play, and have a normal day with other kids,” Lynchuk says in the video.
Lynchuk says he was photographed at the rally and the picture was brought to the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS).
The day after the rally, on Sunday, Lynchuk says he was told he wasn’t allowed to come to work on Monday.
Lynchuk says his superiors told him when he does return, he’d have to work in the office — rather than in the community. The 32-year-old would also have to undergo a COVID-19 rapid test each morning.
"I don’t believe in doing those things,” Lynchuk says in the video.
The cop of eight years says he decided to resign because the job was making him do things he "wasn’t comfortable doing.”
"I don't want anyone to think in this world that I resigned because I was scared of reprimands or anything in those regards,” he says.
"I just stood up for something bigger. I wasn't willing to be punished for letting my kids play in a park with other kids.”
CTV News has attempted to reach Lychuk.
Employment and labour lawyer Steve Seiferling says SPS has the right to re-assign duties within an employee’s job description.
“By assigning this member to be on desk duty and to follow the public health orders, the Saskatoon Police Service is well within its rights. By the same token, the member is within his rights to choose to resign based on his personal beliefs,” Seiferling says.
He says if off-duty conduct impacts the job, an employee can be disciplined, or in some cases terminated. But Seiferling says it’s “fairly rare that somebody would give up a job like this.”
The video of Lynchuk was posted to the "What’s Up Canada?” Facebook page, which shares anti-COVID health measure posts.
SPS says it’s committed to following the COVID-19 protocols, but it’s “not in a position … to provide comment on the video being asked about,” according to a police spokesperson.
On Tuesday, the Saskatoon Police Association confirmed Lynchuk resigned.
"We continue to support the recommended public health measures. We have no further comment,” the association said in an e-mail to CTV News.