‘Think about somebody other than yourself’: Winnipeg mayor speaks out against anti-mask rallies

WINNIPEG — Winnipeg’s mayor spoke out strongly against a recent anti-mask rally in Steinbach, Man., and against other rallies scheduled to occur in Winnipeg.

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Brian Bowman took aim at people holding “unsafe” rallies in the province and Winnipeg.

“Part of living in a free and democratic society is having the right to personal freedoms, and while protecting personal freedom is something we all believe is incredibly important in a free and democratic society, I have to ask in what world is it acceptable to exercise that personal freedom in a reckless manner,” Bowman said, adding he’s asking everyone to stay home as much as possible.

On Saturday, an anti-mask rally occurred in Steinbach, attracting hundreds of people. Lewis Weiss, the elected Reeve for the RM of La Broquerie and a speaker at the rally, received a ticket of $1,296 for violating public health orders.

Rally attendees responded by yelling, honking, and berating the officer, surrounding provincial personnel, and media.

The rally has been condemned by Justice Minister Cliff Cullen, and Premier Brian Pallister who said people who attended the rally should expect to have fines mailed to them.

Bowman called the actions of those attending the rally “deplorable,” and said he is concerned about seeing a repeat of the event in Winnipeg. At several points this year, anti-mask protests have occurred outside of City Hall.

“I saw the verbal abuse that they were taking on social media, and I thought it was disgusting,” he said.

Another rally is scheduled for Winnipeg this weekend, Bowman said. He said those attending the rally are not only putting themselves at risk but frontline workers as well.

“We’re losing residents right now to COVID, and to see, really, the selfishness of these individuals, think about somebody other than yourself,” Bowman said. “If putting a mask on and going to sit on the couch is a hardship, really? Come on.”

Bowman asked those attending the rallies to “exercise their freedom” in a way that protects everyone’s health, such as doing it online or expressing their concerns in writing.

“Go home, that’s what all officials are asking, is stay home,” he said. “These events are reckless.”

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