Despite warning from Kenney, anti-maskers vow larger protests

Despite warning from Kenney, anti-maskers vow larger protests

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The organizer also said protesters would seek to social distance but added “there is a lack of feasibility … considering the expected turnout.”

Kenney’s suggestion that protesters rely on online or written tactics were rejected as being less effective than more visible demonstrations.

The group’s statement also said a speaker at the Calgary rally would be the head of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF), John Carpay, whose group says it’s launching a constitutional challenge against Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions.

The JCCF and protesters contend the restrictions — that also include strict limits on attendance at funerals, wedding and places of worship, while mandating mask-wearing in public spaces in Edmonton and Calgary — unnecessarily infringe on civil liberties.

With 590 COVID-19 deaths now reported in Alberta and a test positivity rate having passed a “grim milestone” of 10 per cent, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw implored residents to stay home or to maintain social distance this weekend.

“By bend the curve and not the rules, you are sparing someone from watching a loved one battle COVID-19,” she said Friday.

Those representing Alberta’s registered nurses delivered a similar message, saying over-stretched health care workers are fearful of what lies ahead as infections mount.

“Please don’t go out this weekend. Think of yourself, your family and neighbours, and the ability of your health care workers to care for Albertans who are already sick with COVID-19 as staffing shortages grow more severe.” said United Nurses of Alberta President Heather Smith Friday.

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On Thursday, the heads of the city’s bylaw and police departments said issuing tickets would continue if those protests resumed.

“There’s a segment of the population that doesn’t care to follow the rules, so we’ve got to get serious,” said Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld.

He also said he’s confident crowd concerns sparked by fights and lack of social distancing at Chinook Centre mall a week ago won’t occur again.

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on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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