Durham cop seen hanging out with the crew who harrassed Jagmeet Singh in Peterborough

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Published May 19, 2022 at 1:16 pm

Durham police Sct Howard, currently under investigation for misconduct for her Freedom Convoy support, met with the anti-vax group that harassed Jagmeet Singh in Peterborough.

The Durham Regional police officer currently under investigation for misconduct for her support of the Freedom Convoy was in Peterborough the other day, hanging out with the crew who harassed NDP Jagmeet Singh.

Cst Erin Howard has been under fire for several months ever since she posted a video filmed in her squadcar in uniform in which she acclaimed the Freedom Convoy of anti-vax and anti-health measure protestors.

“You’re fighting for our rights and freedoms. Right now it feels like we’re a little bit at war and those rights and freedom are at stake,” she said, going on to call the anti-vax protestors “true heroes.”

Howard was set to speak in Ottawa on behalf of On Guard for Thee, an anti-vax and health measure group composed of police officers who believe public health orders violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

(While such orders can indeed conflict with the some chartered rights, such as expression, assembly and religion, these conflicts are generally covered by the “reasonable limits” clause in Section 1 of the Charter. This clause is why one cannot espouse hate speech, for example.)

Howard was one of several officers set to speak, calling the opportunity a “great honour” in her cruiser video.

Her video was posted while the convoy was still on route to the capital. As is by now well-documented the the Convoy quickly devolved into a weeks-long illegal occupation of the city as protestors honked their horns around the clock, harassed residents, hosted meals in the street, soaked in hot tubs and desecrated landmarks such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Shortly after Howard’s video went out, Durham police launched an investigation and released a statement: “The views expressed in that video do not reflect the views and opinions of DRPS.”

Ultimately Howard was charged with two counts of discreditable conduct, insubordination and breach of confidence. Her first hearing was held in May for an introductory hearing. The case has been adjourned until June.

Just weeks after Howard’s hearing, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh made a stop in Peterborough to support the local provincial candidate Jen Deck at her campaign office.

On arrival, Singh was greeted by a crowd of protestors associated with Hold Fast, an anti-vax collective organized by restaurant owners Nicole Comber and Roy Asselstine.

Their restaurant, Peterburgers, has been a flashpoint for anti-vax protest organization and legal consequences. Opened late in 2019, Peterburgers refused to enforce public health orders in their dining area and were forced to close in November after they were issued numerous tickets.

They hosted a grand re-opening in April which resulted in numerous by-law violations and charges, as reported by Kawartha Now.

On May 10, Hold Fast members, including Asselstine and Comber, went to the NDP campaign office to protest Singh. A small hoard of protestors were out the protest shouting “freedom!” and that Singh was a “traitor.”

The group can be seen in the above video and others posted to their Facebook page yelling, chanting and alleging the NDP to be “corrupt.” When Singh meets the protestors some can be heard shouting “You’re a f*cking piece of s*it,” “You lying piece of s–t” and calling Singh a “traitor.”

“I have children and you will not touch them,” yelled Comber.

Peterborough Police Service was nowhere to be found. In a later statement they claimed to be unaware Singh was visiting town.

Hold Fast protests was met with widespread condemnation. “Our City was the site of an ugly, unacceptable attack on the leader of the Federal NDP,” said Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien. “Mr. Singh came here to support the provincial party’s local candidate, as is his right to do so, and he should have been able to do so free from harassment and intimidation.”

She called on leaders to “refuse to be intimidated and coerced into appeasing or collaborating in any way with those who are terrorizing our democratic processes.”

In later live video Comber claimed their group was being “stigmatized” for their choices. “We do not support the vulgar message that occurred,” claimed Comber, despite being a full participant in the abuse heaped on Singh. “However we support the right to protest peacefully against politicians who perpetrate fear and division.”

Comber than turned around and called the government corrupt, while Asselstine bemoaned being “targeted, convicted.” Neither Asselstine nor Comber were charged for the disruption, much less convicted.

While celebrating Peterborough as a whole and thanking supporters, Singh said “Sadly, polarization and disinformation are real dangers to or society. While disagreements are fundamental to a thriving democracy, hatred, violence and wishing death upon others threatens it.”

“When hate is given space to grow it spreads like wildfire,” he said.

Days later Howard and her husband and fellow DRPS officer went to Peterburgers and adorned Hold Fast sweaters in support of the group.

 

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