'Irresponsible and dangerous': Saskatoon mayor slams Children's Freedom Rally
SASAKTOON -- Saskatoon's mayor is asking people to stay away from the Children’s Freedom Rally event planned for Saturday at the Vimy Memorial.
"It is organized as part of the anti-mask activities and is irresponsible and dangerous," he said on Twitter.
"If parents or children attend this event and return to workplaces, schools or daycares, this endangers everyone.
"Kids should never be used as a cover for dangerous activities. If you know anyone thinking of going to this event, please convince them to stay home."
Clark said he expects enforcement measures to be in place and the organizers be held accountable for bringing this "threat" to the community.
The Children’s Freedom Rally is advertised as a “fun day in the park” with balloon animals, face painting and games.
“This day is all about celebrating freedom, but mostly about our children having fun,” the poster for the Saturday event reads.
It says most people won’t wear masks, but people are still welcome if they have one on.
The rally encourages parents, grandparents and all family to join.
In a news release sent Friday afternoon, Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) said it is aware of the planned event.
"We have been contacted by many residents concerned about this rally and the police response to it," SPS said.
"Officers will be in attendance at this event to ensure it is peaceful and restrictions under the Public Health Order are enforced."
SPS said its response to a protest is "a balance between protecting the rights of people to express their opinions" and ensuring general safety.
However, SPS said police "can and do" identify "key participants" and those who commit "egregious acts for which enforcement activity would be appropriate."
SPS said it has issued 25 Public Health Order-related tickets since the start of the pandemic.
The event falls on the same week Saskatchewan detected its first cases of the P.1 Brazilian COVID-19 variant, and the province reached a record high for COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
While Regina has been the hotspot for variant coronavirus cases in the province, the Saskatoon area topped 500 confirmed variant cases earlier this week.
The B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K., accounts for nearly all of the cases in Saskatchewan where the strain has been identified.