Health authorities scapegoated a Mennonite community — help us find out why

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An Ontario health authority that closed Old Order Mennonite churches and schools now demands big money from Rebel News in exchange for documents relating to the decision to target the largely closed faith community as a bunch of dangerous COVID superspreaders.

The story of the government attack on the Old Order Mennonites of Mount Forest, Ontario and the surrounding area began in November 2020, when the medical officer of health for the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph region, Nicola Mercer, ordered churches and schools closed as COVID-19 hit.

“I am saddened by the need for this extraordinary step,” said Dr. Mercer at the time, “I do not take the issuing of Section 22 Orders lightly, but COVID-19 poses a serious health risk to the Old Order Mennonite Community and to all of us in the region. Sometimes we need to make difficult decisions to prevent the unchecked spread of this virus.”

Outbreaks of COVID were claiming the elderly in government operated or regulated nursing homes, and Costcos and Walmarts were wide open to the public. Yet Mercer closed the churches and schools of a community that self-segregates from the world at large as a way of life.

At the time, Rebel News sent Keean Bexte to get the full story as best he could from a religious community that avoids confrontation at almost all costs and is not used to being in the public eye. Bexte was able to speak to a Mennonite teacher about the impact that closing churches and schools has on a religious community that considers joint worship to be an essential part of everyday life.

But we knew there was more to the story. We wanted to know why and how this community of pacifist Christians became a scapegoat for government failures.

We filed an access to information request with the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health authority, asking for "copies of all documents including e-mails, texts or instant messages/ WhatsApp messages/ slack messages, memos, briefing notes, etc., regarding the issuing of public health orders to Old Order Mennonite communities, since November 1, 2020."

We did not receive the information the health authority is legally obliged to give us in a timely fashion. Instead, we got a paywall.

The health authority sent us a bill: $3,402 for 2,835 pages of digital documents.

The government must really be obsessed with those Mennonites to have that many documents about them.

The more the government puts up paywalls and roadblocks, the more I know there is something there. What were these anti-Christians in government saying about peaceful, law-abiding Old Order Mennonites? I want to keep looking, but I need your help. We rely on the support of our viewers to get answers. If you can help us, please donate today at our special website dedicated to funding our access to information investigations at

Read the response we got from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph for yourself:

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  • By Rebel News

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