Durham Police investigating officer recorded voicing solidarity with anti-vaxxers protests at Whitby demonstration

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Published January 25, 2022 at 2:23 pm

Durham Regional Police are investigating an officer who posted a video, while in uniform and in her squad car, voicing support for protest activity against vaccine mandate for truckers in the company.

The cop, Constable Erin Howard of Durham Regional Police, released the selfie-style video from her cruiser on January 24 after another anti-vaxxer protest at Whitby’s Durham Regional Headquarters.

Anti-vaxxers were out in force at the closed headquarters over the weekend, in advance of numerous protests scheduled next week with a ‘Freedom Convoy’ on the way to Ottawa from British Columbia. At the last check, the convoy had passed Calgary.

When the protesters arrive in Ottawa to protest a rule the Americans also enforce, they’re set to disrupt traffic along Highway 401 with solidarity protests on highway over-passes scheduled along the route, such as that seen by notorious spreader of misinformation, Jody Ledgerwood, hot after a trespassing arrest in Whitby while screaming at children, and breaking into the Eaton Centre.

Cst. Howard goes into a minute-long tirade of anti-vaxxer support in the video, “I really want to give a big shout out to all the truckers. I think what you guys are doing is incredible. Um, 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 went on to call anti-vaxxers “true heroes.”

The Canadian Trucking Association (CTA), however, says most of its members are vaccinated to the point they’re on par with the more than 80 per cent of Canadians with both shots.

As well, the Charters of Rights and Freedoms does not discuss medical rights as they are covered by provincial, not federal, governments. There is no provision in the Charter for medical ‘freedoms’ since it is not in Federal jurisdiction.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission, which does rule on Ontarians’ rights, does not include vaccination status as a protected class, since they protect who one is, based on 17 identity categories, none of which include vaccine status.

Undeterred, Howard has posted numerous massages, including articles from far-right political commentary site Rebel Media, via her twitter page.

This was, however, the first time Howard had shared such a message while in uniform. She said in her statement she was “thrilled and honoured” to be a featured speaker at a protests event scheduled for next weekend when anti-vaxxers descend on Ottawa after a driving across country.

Howard says she will be speaking in Ottawa on behalf of Police On Guard (POG), an anti-vax collective of active and retired officers. POG says in their “Who We Are” section that they are “police officers who have assembled to create a haven of truth and justice for all members of law enforcement and the public.”

POG aims to fight the public health measures the claim are “unconstitutional” at the Supreme Court. POG says officers who “feel even a little apprehensive” about enforcing COVID restrictions, “are not alone.”

The anti-vax trucker convoy Howard is set to speak for is set to arrive in Ottawa next weekend. Supporters have raised more than $3.5 million over the last few days in a fundraiser set up by Alberta Maverick Party board member Tamara Lich, a vocal “Wexiteer” trying to get the prairies to leave Canada.

A few hours after Howard’s video went up, Durham Regional Police, which doesn’t require its officers to get vaccinated said online, “The views expressed in that video do not reflect the views and opinions of DRPS. We are currently looking into this matter.”

Conservative leaders have largely backed the call to end the mandate, without reference to restrictions from the United States, with Durham MP and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole refusing to say whether or not his party supports vaccinated or unvaccinated truckers.

O’Toole has repeatedly said that while he encourages workers to vaccinate, he believe those who don’t should get “reasonable accommodations” to allow them to work. He has not specified what those would look like.

His MPs have been more forceful about the mandate with Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, complaining the loss of truckers would exacerbate existing supply chain issues which have led to 30-year record inflation now at 4.8 percent.

Thornhill MP Melissa Lantsman has been harshly critical of the trucker mandate, often making public statements to repeal it. This included a post showing empty grocery store shelves, blaming the mandate.

The photo in Lantsman’s post is a stock photo taken in Newcastle, England, a country that has just lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions.

The Canadian Trucker Alliance has supported the vaccine mandate and roundly condemned protests that interfere with roadways. “The Government of Canada and the United States have now made being vaccinated a requirement to cross the border,” CTA president Stephen Laskowski said, “This regulation is not changing so, as an industry, we must adapt and comply with this mandate,”

“The only way to cross the border, in a commercial truck or any other vehicle, is to get vaccinated,” he concluded.

 

 

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