Protests billed as part of a “Worldwide Freedom Rally” were held in opposition to COVID-19 restrictions across the world on March 20. After the scenes from Montreal last weekend, Rebel News was on the ground to cover demonstrations in both Toronto and Montreal this weekend.
Canada's largest city saw what appeared to be its largest protest against municipal and provincial lockdown restrictions yet. On a day where temperatures were above the seasonal average, a crowd that seemed to be in the thousands gathered on the lawns of Ontario's legislature, Queen's Park, just as they had nearly a year earlier.
Protesters started to fill the area shortly before noon, with police taking a mostly hands-off approach to the crowd, unlike previous weeks.
Crowds packed into Queen's Park gathered around as speakers from various protest groups took turns speaking on the microphone, pushing a message of unity in opposition.
The owner of J&W Foods, Bill Fehr, whose passionate plea for honesty from politicians went viral locally, was one of the speakers.
Anti-lockdown activist Chris Sky, who had a recent late-night visit from York Regional Police, was not at the rally, though organizers arranged for him to speak virtually to the gathered crowd.
After the speakers had concluded, the crowd made its usual march through the streets of downtown Toronto.
One bystander took issue with the protest, walking up to the crowd from a side street and berating individuals marching by. Another man stepped in and helped defuse the situation.
As traffic congestion piled up, numerous cars honked their horns in support of the demonstrators.
The march eventually made its way to Yonge-Dundas Square, the site of numerous arrests back in January.
After stopping at Yonge-Dundas Square, the group then made its way to Toronto City Hall, gathering in Nathan Phillips Square.
Perhaps the most involved the police got was stopping the “Bubble Bus,” a modified old bus often seen at the protests blowing bubbles in the air. After a somewhat tense stand off, the issue was resolved peacefully.
Stay tuned for a full report from Rebel reporter David Menzies who was on the scene.
In contrast to Toronto, Montreal police continued with their more heavy-handed enforcement approach. Much like last weekend, numerous arrests and charges were laid — including, yet again, against Rebel reporters.
One woman, who claimed she wasn't a part of the protest, was given a ticket for not wearing a mask and being less than two metres away from a friend.
Police showed up in vans, split into small teams and made arrests.
Heavily geared-up Montreal police would target individual protesters, remove them from the group and then make arrests or issue charges.
A man marching in the protest spoke to Rebel News, telling Lincoln Jay that he was there for his wife, for his kids and his people. “I want my freedom,” he said.
Later on, the entire Rebel team in Montreal were given tickets — despite exemptions asserting that media is deemed “essential” in the province.
Montreal police also released a statement saying that between March 15–21, the department received 511 calls about violations of the province's public health decree. Police added that of the 431 reports filed, 230 were for violating Quebec's curfew.
A full report from the Rebel team's trip to Montreal will also be coming soon.
To help fund our on the ground coverage, and help us get footage that you won't see in mainstream media sources, visit www.LockdownReports.com.