Hundreds gather in downtown Barrie fighting for 'civil liberties'
BARRIE, ONT. -- Hundreds gathered in downtown Barrie on Saturday, fighting for civil liberties one day after the province imposed new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The now weekly 'Barrie Freedom Rally' at Meridian Place drew out a large crowd today, despite outdoor gatherings currently limited to members of your household.
"I'm here today to protest the ability of the police to stop citizens on their normal travels and question not only where they live and their name but where they are going and why," said Robert MacFarlane, one of the protesters.
Barrie police, who have said they will not be using enhanced powers given to them Friday in order to enforce the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, said the crowd was largely peaceful. A total of eight provincial offence notices were handed out, one of those going to the event organizer.
Joining the protest was People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, who said it's critical people's rights are respected.
"It's so important to fight for our freedoms right now; we cannot take for granted our way of life, we cannot take for granted the western civilization values we believe in," Bernier said to CTV News.
In an effort to discourage attendance, Barrie city council put out a letter this week saying that the event was not safe to be held.
"There are some specific things in yesterday's announcement I disagree with, but the safe way to protest these things is not to gather," said Lehman. "The safe way to protest is online and using all the other tools we have to express our views in a free country."
The protest, which has been happening for weeks, is set to return next weekend.