queens park protest today

Anti-masker protest in Toronto turns violent as man tries to storm Queen's Park

No mask? No problem — not for (brutally) failed 2019 Prime Ministerial candidate Maxime Bernier and his apparent buddy Randy Hillier, an independent MPP from Kingston who was removed from the PC caucus last year.

The dynamic duo attracted dozens of supporters to Queen's Park on Wednesday, where they formed a maskless mob on a lawn outside the legislature.

Members of the group listened intently and cheered as Hillier called Ontario Premier Doug Ford a "coward" and a "yahoo." The group had gathered explicitly to challenge the Ford government's COVID-19 social gathering restrictions, which Hillier has called "unlawful."

The MPP actually stood up in parliament yesterday to announce his plan of going to Queen's Park and purposefully challenging the law, which carries with it a fine of $10,000 for people hosting outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people and $800 for all attendees.

"Tomorrow I will host and gather with more than 25 friends, an offence under these authoritarian laws," said Hillier on Tuesday.

True to his word, Hillier spoke alongside Bernier to what looked like far more than 25 people on Wednesday.

At one point during the demonstration, a man allegedly attempted to enter the building and perform a "citizen's arrest" on Ford.

A Facebook Live stream from the event shows several men arguing with Queen's Park security guards before one man charges the guards and gets pinned to the ground.

"Today's incident of the failed citizen's arrest at Queen's Park reminds me of when Extinction Rebellion tried to arrest the Premier of BC, and actually went to his home," wrote one attendee. "Sister organizations in Toronto quickly condemned and distanced themselves from that 'action'."

Ford addressed the situation during his daily pandemic press conference on Wednesday after announcing a new round of funding for mental health services targeting children and youth.

"Well, we live in a democracy — I've told people 'you want to protest? come down to Queens's Park. They're welcome to protest," said the premier when asked about what happened.

"What I do ask is not to be violent, and I hear there was a little bit of violence out there today, and that's unacceptable."

Ford went on to reiterate that he doesn't have a problem with people protesting outside the Legislature.

"It's about freedom of speech. If they want to go out there, do cartwheels, jump up and down, hold signs up, shout and scream, that's fine," he told reporters.

"But violence is where you cross the line and we won't tolerate that for a second," Ford continued. "You're violent with the security folks here, our Toronto Police or OPP, it's not gunna end well for you."

Lead photo by

Ed Jamnisek

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