Police officers and firefighters stood in silent protest against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in front of Calgary City Hall on Sept. 7—and they’re planning to do it again on Sept. 12.
“We gathered across the street from city hall, at Olympic Plaza, at 11 a.m.,” said participant Jonathan Hagel, also the People’s Party of Canada candidate for the riding of Calgary Midnapore.
“The policemen and firemen seemed to have a plan among themselves,” said Hagel, who was on hand for the protest but was not one of the organizers.
The crowd at the protest walked across the street to stand in front of city hall, many of them carrying signs expressing their opposition to mandatory vaccinations.
“My body, my choice. No mask! No vaccine!” read one. “Saying no is my choice,” read another.
Then the roughly 55 police officers and firefighters in attendance stood silently in formation in front of the municipal offices for an hour in silent protest.
Just before everything fell silent, one of the participants asked everyone in attendance to refrain from speaking with any and all journalists, urging them to answer any questions from reporters with “no comment.”
“People were pretty friendly, excited to be there,” said Hagel. “But when it went silent, it got quite a bit more sombre as people realized they were putting their jobs on the line.”
The protest against mandatory vaccinations by these front-line workers comes in the wake of the City of Calgary’s announcement on Sept. 3 of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for all city staff.
“As the second-largest employer in Calgary, the city has a duty to ensure that our workplaces are safe for both employees and citizens accessing city services, while also modelling for Calgarians the role every individual plays in ensuring the safety of others,” city manager David Duckworth said in a statement.
Under the new policy, which is slated to take effect Sept. 13, any municipal employee in Calgary who is unable to get the shot for a medical reason or for other protected grounds under the Alberta Human Rights Act will be reasonably accommodated.
Those employees, though, will still need to undergo mandatory COVID-19 rapid testing and receive a negative result before being allowed back to work.
Anyone who fails to comply with the policy can be disciplined and even fired.
“We must take this leadership role at this critical time to do our part to mitigate the impacts of COVID on our staff, our operations, and the citizens who depend on us every day,” Duckworth said. “It’s simply the right thing to do.”
Municipal employees who are unvaccinated and who do not have a satisfactory exemption are required to have their first vaccine dose by Sept.13. They then have until Oct. 18 to get their second shot.
A “Calgary Freedom Central” news page has been created on Facebook to provide information about the protests against the city’s mandatory vaccination program.
It notes another protest is being planned by Calgary firefighters, Emergency Medical Services staff, police officers, nurses, Alberta Health Services, and City of Calgary workers against what is being dubbed “government mandates and medical coercion” for Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.
“Wear a black or blue shirt to show your support and come with hands free so you may join in a silent arms-linked march through downtown,” reads that Facebook post.
The latest protests in Calgary come as Canada is facing a wave of protests against mandatory vaccination programs, lockdowns, and the mandatory wearing of face masks.
Canadian Frontline Nurses is one group organizing protests throughout the country for the afternoon of Sept. 13 under the banner of what is being called the National Health Freedom Movement.
“Bring a flower & note to leave in honour of someone affected by COVID measures or share your story how you’ve been affected,” the group’s poster urges.
The protests are being held in cities across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario; at Quebec’s McGill University Health Centre; in front of the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital in New Brunswick; in Charlottetown and Halifax; and in Newfoundland.
The backlash by public employees against COVID-19 public health measures gained steam in March this year when three groups, including Canadian Frontline Nurses, Police on Guard For Thee, and Ontario Civil Liberties, issued a joint statement expressing concern about the measures.
“We are active and non-active members in our respective fields. We are being censored, our jobs and licenses are under threat, and we are unable to advocate for our community,” the statement read.
The three groups, united under the umbrella group Professionals Against Lockdowns, claims Ottawa’s response to COVID-19 has lacked a risk-variant analysis on Canada’s various demographic groups and is doing more harm than good.
“We devote our energy and efforts to the following just and compassionate objectives: to uphold and protect rights and freedoms, to allow for informed consent and medical transparency, to allow for censor-free dialogue, and to honour and protect our children as well as the elderly,” reads a statement on their website.