Vaccine protestors take their fairy tale grievances to City Hall

City Hall | Paul Dechene | Sept. 9, 2021

Despite what it sounded like to this reporter when he first heard the story at Saturday’s Farmers’ Market, a group of anti-vaccination protesters did not “storm” Regina city hall on Friday, Sept. 3.

“Storm” is much too grand a word.

What did happen that Friday afternoon is that the usual crowd of anti-vaccination, anti-mask, anti-mandates, anti-science, COVID-denying protesters who’ve been waving signs south of Victoria Park all summer long, moved their shenanigans to the park in front of city hall. Over 100 of them gathered. They were responding to an announcement from earlier in the week that Regina would re-institute mask requirements in all of its facilities as of Sept. 4 and, as of Sept. 20, [1] it would require proof-of-vaccination from members of the public entering those facilities.

Then, at some point around 1:15 p.m., a group of 40 to 50 of these protesters entered the lobby of city hall and demanded to speak with an elected representative.

No elected representatives were in the building, however. Instead, they spoke with an executive member of city administration who listened to their concerns.

The protesters were then asked to leave, and did. Police were on site but no arrests were made.

And while some city services in the lobby were temporarily suspended by the disruption and city staff received security notices warning them away from the lobby, the protest didn’t rise to the level of a “storming”.

But still…

It was an alarming display of entitlement and ignorance.

And once again, as city hall tries to act in a way that best protects Regina citizens’ health and safety, basing their policies on the best evidence available to them, they’re having to fight an uphill battle against an avalanche of public scorn.

Messages to councillors that we’ve seen run the gamut from equating the city’s vaccine policy with Nazi Germany, accusing councillors of being bought out (by whom?) and demanding tax refunds for facilities the unvaccinated will be restricted from entering.

Prairie Dog was shown messages received by City councillors (identifying information was removed before we saw them). Here are a few examples. A warning: some readers may find these comments upsetting:

“The fact that you so called politicians are mandating a vaccine policy for city spaces is disgusting and pure evil.… The Nazis called the Jews germ spreaders. Now look at your self [sic] in this situation. History repeats itself.”

“Essentially forcing an invasive experimental medical procedure on a populace for a virus that runs a >98% survival rate is evil. Pure evil.”

“What is next for the un-vaccinated? Gold stars and free trips to camps where they can learn the fine art of industrial scale baking? Or will ostracizing them from society be sufficient? This is a very slippery slope that will devlolve [sic] into tyrrany [sic].”

“Councillors that are supporting this coercion and unconstitutional bylaw should personally be held liable. SHAME ON YOU FOR TAKING THE FREEDOM AWAY OF THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES AND THE PUBLIC.”

“So will I be getting a good chunk of my city taxes refunded to me if my family and I aren’t allowed to access any city facilities after Sept 20th? Shame on you! Anyone who hasn’t gotten the jab yet doesn’t want it! You have no right to force this experment [sic] on our kids!! The Nuremberg Code.”

“Shame on you for being bought out and for going along with this charade! How much money were you offered to implement these mandates? How do you sleep at night?”

“Just as masks have been proven to be harmful and not beneficial in any way, so too are vaccines being proven around the world as harmful and not beneficial in any way. Not one life has been saved by COVID-19 vaccines. Many lives have been destroyed by this vaccine, the masking and the government overreach.”

“I’ve personally been to 7 countries that are either communist or run by a fascist regime, and we should not be emulating those countries in any way… even public health. If you want to mandate heath [sic] do so with healthy foods and exercise, not toxic injections and blocking breathing passages.”

“Stop dividing people and open your damn eyes. And if any of you want to come back at me with your bullshit response about how vaccines work, honestly save it & shove it up your blind ass!”

“This will be the most horrific human rights abuse a municipality has committed on its own residents in Saskatchewan history.”

Nothing especially surprising in there — we’ve heard right-wing media in the States conflate mask mandates and proof-of-vaccination requirements with the Holocaust for months now.

But we’ve also seen how that exaggerated rhetoric has exploded into far more negative behaviour and sometimes even violence. No, we haven’t seen a Jan. 6-style storming of a government building in this country but just this past weekend, People’s Party Of Canada supporters [2] pelted the Prime Minster and members of the media with rocks at a campaign stop in London, Ontario.

The problem with building a movement based on placing the convenience and comfort of certain individuals over the health and safety of the wider community is that this thinking extends beyond the narrow focus on masks and vaccines. If these protesters have zero compassion for the hundreds of Saskatchewanians who have died or are at risk of dying from COVID, we can’t be surprised to find they lack empathy for the politicians and civil servants they’ve indulgently branded as enemies of their liberty.

And that’s why while Sept. 3 in Regina is a nothingburger compared to Jan. 6 in Washington DC — or even Sept. 6 in London, Ontario — it’s still worth taking seriously. Especially as there are more “No Vax Mandate” rallies at city hall planned for every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and a “big one” planned for Sep. 15 to coincide with city council’s next meeting.

Between now and then, expect the anti-vax rhetoric to only get more heated.


[1] City workers will be required to provide proof of vaccination as of Sept. 15. Kids under 12 are exempt from this requirement. As many city facilities will be voting sites during the Sept. 20 federal election, per Election Canada rules, election workers and voters are exempt from providing proof of vaccination.

[2] The rock throwers’ identity was exposed by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (@antihateca on Twitter). Yes, the rock throwers were PPC supporters. No, they were not actors paid by the Liberals to create controversy. 


High Noon For Burns Hanley

Another downtown heritage building is in peril. Administration is recommending that the owner of the Burns Hanley Building at 1863 Cornwall Street be allowed to demolish that property providing they have an interim plan for the site that is “aesthetically appropriate” and “reflective of the heritage significance of the site.”

I’m sorry, did someone say, landscaped temporary parking lot?

The Burns Hanley Building is within the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District, so technically it should have been maintained and preserved for all these years. Instead, it’s been left to rot and the owners now claim the structure is in danger of collapse.

The owner of the Burns Hanley building is Harvard Diversified Enterprises Inc, part of the larger group of Harvard businesses that also own the Gordon Block around the corner on 12th Ave (the former home of Novia Café). Harvard applied to have that building demolished in 2011. There are widespread theories that Harvard wants to tear both the Burns Hanley Building and Gordon Block down to build a fourth Hill Tower. At present, however, they still don’t own the corner lot between these two properties meaning any temporary use put in place at 1863 Cornwall could be temporary for a long time.

The Burns Hanely demolition application goes to Regina Planning Commission on Sep. 8 and then to council on Sep 15.