OLDS — A crowd attending an anti-COVID-19 lockdown rally was told that “leftist and globalist billionaires” are using pandemic protocols as an opportunity to impose socialism and kill the oil and gas industry as part of a strategy to fight climate-change.
Former MLA Rob Anderson of Airdrie levelled that charge during his speech to the throng.
At its height, about 140 people attended the rally, held Feb. 21 in the parking lot of Leo’s Castle Building Supplies and organized by the Mountain View Freedom citizens group. The rally lasted about 65 minutes.
Anderson said “leftists and globalists around the world – including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau -- are using the pandemic to “fundamentally alter our way of life long-term and what we can do to thwart it here in Alberta.”
“It’s entirely likely that these politicians and globalist billionaires will try and use many of the same tactics deployed to address the COVID crisis to now fight the more deadly climate crisis,” Anderson added.
He said there’s no denying COVID is a disease and it’s more contagious and more deadly than the regular flu.
“But it’s equally clear that “COVID-19 is not nearly – not even in the same universe – as serious or deadly as is being claimed by the media and/or your politicians,” he added.
“And the western world’s response to this virus has caused infinitely more harm and death than the virus itself.”
Casino poker room manager Don Tinordi of Calgary who said he loves statistics and math, told the crowd that according to his research, “97.04 per cent of Albertans have never been infected by the virus; 97.6 per cent of hospital bed capacity has been available for all other illnesses and 99.96 per cent of Albertans were never lost to this virus.”
Several people in the crowd carried signs saying things like “Crime Against Humanity Open Up Now,” “Freedom Over Fear” and “Communism Overtakes Vulnerable Independent Domain.” Another sign read, “Communism Overtakes Vulnerable Independent Domain.”
“We will be adhering to AHS guidelines so if you feel like wearing a mask, feel free. But if you have an exemption, you do not have to wear a mask,” said Doug Mantai of Didsbury who served as MC for the rally.
That sparked huge cheers and the sound of cowbells ringing.
Masks and hand sanitizer were available at a table at the side of the rally crowd.
Rally organizers urged people to donate money to the Mountain View Food Bank and many did, piling their donations on the speakers’ platform and an adjacent table.
Each time a speaker made a point, there were more loud cheers and the sound of cow bells ringing.
During an interview, Mantai was asked why the rally was being held now, as the provincial government had lifted several restrictions on businesses.
Mantai conceded that, but said the goal of rally organizers was to see even more restrictions lifted.
Mantai agreed the COVID-19 virus has killed and hospitalized many people since it was first detected in Alberta nearly a year ago. However, he said the pandemic restrictions are causing too much hardship for people and business owners.
“Well, COVID has caused issues for families, we are not denying that. But we’re also not denying the fact that these restrictions are causing many, many other issues and mental illness suicide, spousal abuse, family abuse, alcoholism, drug overdoses, these issues have to be dealt with too,” he said.
“But we’ve got to look at the big picture, right? Our response by the government has to look at the full, total picture.
“Business survival which is community survival. These communities, like Olds, like Three Hills, Lacombe, we’re turning these little towns into ghost towns. And for what? If they can operate safely, let ‘em open up.”
Natural health practitioner Rick Kohut, owner of Health Street Wellness in Olds, also addressed the crowd.
He said his business, which has been operating for nearly 13 years, specializes in natural health care for people, yet he said it has been “criticized” by Alberta Health Services representatives.
“We actually have more bacteria in and on our body than we have human cells. And that’s our immune system, folks. And what are we being told to do with that bacteria on our body right now? We’re being told to kill it,” Kohut said.
“Well, if we have more bacteria on our body and in our body than human cells then aren’t we actually killing ourselves? It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Kohut asked if there were any members of town council in the crowd. He couldn’t spot any.
“Something seems a little bit wrong here,” he said. “We have an organization here all about supporting small business and the very people that take our taxes and choose how to spend it are not here today. They’re not here to support us.”
Pamphlets and other materials decrying lockdown measures were handed out to members of the crowd.
One piece of paper featured a headline that said, “Sick And Tired Of the COVID police state? Help us take back the Nation Now! A message from the Republic of Kanata and its assemblies.”
The message, in part, said, “fake pandemics and official hysteria cannot hide the fact that democracy is dead in Canada. Parliament and the courts are closed.
“A few unaccountable bureaucrats are expecting us to co-operate with their police state measures, including imprisoning and forced vaccination of our own children. But many of us are fighting back!”
At the bottom it said, “Live Free Or Die!”
Mantai said it’s too early to know if the Mountain View Freedom citizens group will hold any more anti-lockdown rallies in the county.