One week after the first anti-lockdown protest in Toronto, it seems activists are back again in full-force. On Saturday, anti-lockdown protesters were spotted in both Ottawa and Toronto, and the demonstrations are becoming increasingly controversial. This week, the Canadian flag was flown upside down, and one man was offering “free hugs.”
On Saturday May 2, protesters were spotted in Queen’s Park for the second week in a row, staging their opposition to Ontario’s social distancing rules.
After initially holding signs that read “I need a haircut” and "Sign up here to die for the economy," some demonstrators have taken increasingly controversial steps.
According to videos shared on social media, one person was offering “free hugs” to anybody who passed by, while another was holding the Canadian flag upside down.
Protesters could also be heard shouting things like, "The hospitals are empty!" and were carrying new signs with messages like "no need for quarantine" and "God reigns supreme."
For the first time this week, activists were also spotted in Ottawa. According to CTV News, around 20 people gathered near Parliament Hill to protest the province’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The rallies took place in spite of the province’s emergency orders, which bans gatherings of more than five people. While violations can carry fines of up to $880, no such tickets have been issued.
In Toronto, more than 100 people gathered this weekend to speak out against COVID-19 restrictions, including children.
It’s a smaller turnout than last week, when approximately 200 people joined the demonstrations.
On April 26, Ontario Premier Doug Ford blasted those involved in the protests, calling them a "bunch of yahoos," and describing their actions as "irresponsible, reckless and selfish."
This week, it seems the upside down flag was almost too much for the premier to handle, as he described getting really burned up about the situation.
"I'll be the first to help them pack their bags and they can find a country that they want!" he said on Saturday.
Ford noted that he can’t direct police on how to enforce rules for protesters, but added that he hoped law enforcement and bylaw officers would do their job.
The demonstrations continue despite an announcement from the Ontario Government on Friday, confirming that some businesses will begin to reopen next week.
However, according to CTV News, the protesters plan to continue their rallies next weekend.