Rise Up anti-vaxxers move on to Doug Ford’s house after protesting Whitby’s Christine Elliott


Published December 21, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Anti-vax protesters filled the suburban streets in front of Premier Doug Ford's house over the weekend in event promoted by Rise Up Durham.

Days after protesting at the Toronto home of Whitby-native Christine Elliott, a hoard of anti-vaxxers descended on Premier Doug Ford’s Etobicoke suburb in an event promoted by Rise Up Durham, a collective of vaccine conspiracy theorists.

The event was first announced by a larger Facebook group Ontario Protests and Freedom to Assemble Information Page, which organizes anti-vax protest across the province.

Previous events discussed on the page include planned rallies at Toronto children’s youth clinics, a demonstration at Hamilton’s Grey Cup, and Christmas Caroling in Burlington.

For the protest at Ford’s house, one commenter suggested that people should consider bringing “large cut outs of the Premier’s deceased brother Rob Ford, and have chants along the lines of “Your brother would have listened to us!'”

A week later the the same post was shared to Rise Up Durham, the day after members recorded themselves in Minister of Health Christine Elliott’s front yard. The public members list of both groups shows they share several members.

Police efforts to keep protestors off the property line and on the sidewalk went poorly, until a perimeter was set up around Elliott’s home, as seen in Rise Up Durham’s own livestream.

In an unsolicited statement sent to this reporter via email, Rise Up Durham supporter Vic Carey outlined the reasons behind these protests, saying “segregation based on people forgoing a pharmaceutical product that causes myocarditis and pericarditis in young adults and Bell’s palsy along with neurological disorders and multiple internal organ injuries in countless others is not ‘baseless’ and never will be you utter fool.”

Carey continued his rant, questioning why the state would compel employers “to force people to use pharmaceuticals that carry massive demonstrated risk, especially children, barring them from sports and being with their friends because they want to leave their bodies alone and not use pharmaceutical products proven to give them heart problems?”

Several other supporters, namely Jude Garcia, Melissa Oppedisano, and Sylvia Simone, shared similar statements.

These claims of heart problems and “vaccine injuries,” such a myocarditis, are commonly cited rhetoric by anti-vaxxers, including by Jody Ledgerwood prior to her arrest in Whitby. However, numerous studies indicate the risks of COVID-19 far outweigh the risks posed by vaccines.

A University of Waterloo study found cases of myocarditis or pericarditis per 1 million vaccine doses ranged between a low of 0.0002 (2 cases per million) to a high of o.o283 (283 cases per million).

The rates varied by dose, vaccine brand and patient age. Cases are rarely serious, per the study. The same study found myocarditis risk was 16-times higher after being infected by COVID-19 affecting 0.1456 per cent of patients (1456 cases per million infections).

Public Health Ontario confirmed 287 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis linked to vaccine use as of September 2021. Ontario has administered 25,629,533 COVID vaccine doses, while the virus has infected 653,727 Ontarians, killing 10,113.

Undeterred or unaware of these findings, a swarm of anti-vax activists went to Ford’s Etobicoke suburb over the weekend to voice their concerns of vaccine injuries and “tyranny.” While the Ontario Protests group boasts more than 5,000 members, far fewer attended the event according to footage from journalist Kosalan Kathir.

Kathir followed the protests for several hours on December 19. Protesters can first be heard over a megaphone in the otherwise quiet suburb. One asks, “Is it ok with you for someone to inject something into your children without your consent?”

There is no stipulated age of medical consent in Ontario. “The Health Care Consent Act stipulates that all persons (including minors) are presumed to be capable (i.e., able to understand treatment information and reasonably foresee consequences) of making treatment decisions,” according to the Canadian Paediatric Society.

When a patient receives their shot the person who administers the injections is mandated to ask if the patient consents multiple times before the injection.

As the Etobicoke sky begins to darken shortly after 5 p.m. a group of anti-vaxxers splits off from the main protest to patrol suburbia, chanting, “No vax pass,” ad nauseum.

When the group returns they are recorded shining bright flashlights into Ford’s windows as a protestor shouts, “You want to Build Back Better (US President Joe Biden’s now-dead spending bill) which will destroy our way of life. We are brave Canadian men and women and we had to fight the Nazis.”

Protestors berate police officers who come to block Ford’s driveway, one shouting, “You’re a disgrace to this country,” one woman shouted. “You’re a part of the destruction.”

“There are children committing suicide at five, six, seven, eight years old.”

While her claims of higher rates of anxiety and depression have merit, as confirmed by SickKids Hospital research, suicide rates have decreased by about 32 per cent across the country per a University of Toronto study.

Toronto police confirmed to Kathir that protesters the next day would be ticketed as renewed restrictions on outdoor gatherings of 25 people take effect. The crowd reacts to this news with hostility. Little can be heard in the footage over the resulting din.

Later in the evening, a woman is heard claiming she told someone the event was organized by Caryma Sa’d, a criminal lawyer based in Toronto. Sa’d is also vocal critic of anti-vaxxer ideologies and events.

Protests continued the following day, despite the new restrictions on gatherings. A neighbour of Ford’s is seen in a video shared by Sa’d, trying to drive to his home through the throng of anti-vax protestors. “This is my f***ing neighbourhood. Get the f*** outta here,” he yells at the crowd, flipping the bird.

The following video contains coarse language.

They respond in kind to the man returning home, “Keep driving, you f***ing goof,” one replies. Another can be heard shouting, “chase him, chase him.” They do not.

A woman enountered Ford at what appears to be a convenience store parking lot earlier in the day of December 19. She is seen in the short clip asking Ford if he’s headed to the cottage, which the Premier confirms, showing that Ford’s darkened home was indeed empty.

A Ford spokesperson later confirmed the Premier was headed to his cottage for the weekend saying, “The Premier and his family haven’t been able to get into their home for most of the weekend or today because anti-vaxxers have been protesting outside their house.”

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