This week, Matt and I covered the draconian COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario, Canada. For a little while, it became a police state after the province’s premier Doug Ford gave police authority to arbitrarily stop anyone outside their home during the lockdown. While many of the controversial orders were rescinded after massive backlash, Ontario is still living “under the government boot.”
Some protesters took their outrage to Niagara Falls on Saturday, where they hung a Canadian flag upside down and signaled SOS in Morse code across the border.
“We have a flag upside down in distress. And we are about to Morse code ‘SOS’ across the border to our neighbors. We are asking for help," says Cullen McDonald in a video taken during the event. "We are hostages in our province now. We are no longer free to do whatever we want as our Charter allows us.”
Canadians in Niagara Falls, Ontario are signalling for help at the U.S.-Canada border tonight using lights to Morse code “SOS” & an upside-down Canadian flag.— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) April 18, 2021
An upside-down flag is a universal signal of distress.
The man in the video says “we are hostages in our province now” pic.twitter.com/rEIx3tc8lO
Now, those behind the organized protest have been criminally charged.
“2 District (Niagara Falls/NOTL) uniform officers were in attendance to ensure public safety and keep the peace. Since that time detectives have been continuing to investigate the gathering to determine appropriate charges,” a Niagara Regional Police Service statement said.
“In the duration of a gathering, officers use discretion to best manage the situation to not cause it to escalate and to preserve the peace,” the statement continued. “The leading principle is keeping the peace and public safety and in doing so, at times, must utilize discretion when it comes to immediate enforcement.”
Criminal charges were brought against 43-year-old Alicia Hirter and McDonald under Section 180(1)(a) of the Canadian Criminal Code (Common nuisance/endanger lives or safety of public).
“Police continue to work in collaboration with Niagara Region Public Health as well as municipal and regional bylaw in relation to enforcement of the COVID-19 provincial and federal Orders,” the statement added. “The Service will continue to work proactively and collaboratively with our municipalities respective by-law enforcement offices with a goal to gain voluntary compliance. Our officers will continue to engage the public to explain the role we all play in staying safe during the pandemic while encouraging compliance, and where appropriate, initiate proceedings through the issuance of offence notices or criminal charges.”
This. Is. Madness. McDonald was right when he called for Canadians to "take action" and "do more than just protest." Widespread civil disobedience may be the only way forward for them.