freedom rally protest toronto

Toronto freedom protesters freaked out at person exercising their freedom

Ontario's mask and vaccine passport mandates are officially over, but that didn't stop followers of the so-called "freedom movement" from congregating in Toronto for another protest this past weekend.

The latest in a series of World Wide Rally events at Queen's Park was held to protest…well…nobody is really sure anymore, something about freedom I guess. But when someone started filming protesters on their phone — a completely legal thing to do for a group assembled in a public place — that was one freedom they were not on board with.

It all started when a protester who had just returned from what he called the "front line" in Ottawa (a callous use of the term from a group that has opposed public health mandates designed to protect the actual front lines in hospital COVID wards) and was interrupted during a speech.

Tims cups and Canadian flags in hand, the protesters confronted the rogue cameraperson, their freedom to record apparently one freedom too far for the freedom movement.

Things got real when a deranged-looking Rod Stewart doppelganger entered the fray, the big-haired protester appearing to grab the filming counter-protester before the video pans away.

According to lawyer and constant thorn in the side of anti-mandate movements, Caryma Sa'd, the argument and the ensuing scuffle happened amid a boiling-over of rivalries between organizers from the west coast and in Toronto. Sa'd suggests "an apparent clash of leadership," as a competing rally was held in B.C.

"Apart from the skirmish at the stage in Toronto, the entire event has been bogged down by controversy and in-fighting," says Sa'd.

"I don't know why he was singled out or jostled before he made a scene by interrupting a speaker. Some attendees tried persuading/cajoling him to leave, others attempted intimidation, and at one point, a person snatched his cellphone and ran," Sa'd claims, adding, "the guy was more or less undeterred."

In a comically bizarre exchange, one protester attempts to explain to the police why the counter-protester should be removed. One of the officers asks, "did he assault anybody?" as the protester struggles to articulate what exactly the other protester did wrong. The best she could come up with was "he's not part of us," which, as far as I know, is not a crime.

Sa'd suggests that this exchange encapsulates the movement, saying "it was yet another demonstration of the narrow-minded 'freedom for me, not thee' mindset."

"It's abundantly clear that the purpose of these rallies is only vaguely connected to policy responses to COVID," says Sa'd. "It’s a hodgepodge of grievances fuelled by conspiracy theories, reflecting a fundamentally anti-government/anti-democratic worldview."

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