British Columbia’s minister of health says the recent behaviour of anti-mandate convoy protesters is beyond unacceptable.
“When people yell freedom but systematically impede other people’s freedoms, whether it be journalists, whether it be citizens in their homes, whether it be students, it is and will always be completely unacceptable,” health minister Adrian Dix said shortly before a provincial government announcement about new nursing seats on Sunday.
The comments come after another wave of protests took place across the country on Saturday in support of the so-called Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.
At some protests, including ones on the Lower Mainland and in Ottawa, journalists were harassed repeatedly by protesters. In one case, a journalist on the Lower Mainland reported being spat on and Surrey RCMP says police intervention was required due to protesters’ behaviour.
Protesters, reportedly, also showed up at the home of B.C.’s public safety minister, solicitor general and deputy premier, Mike Farnworth, on Saturday. In Victoria, a man carrying a sign that called for an end to the honking was swarmed by convoy protesters — some chanting “freedom” — and told to leave. Another counterprotester told CHEK News they were verbally harassed by protesters out front of the B.C. Legislature.
Dix said freedom does not grant an individual the right to attack other people.
“It is not freedom to attack other people’s freedoms and rights and the expression of your own desires,” he said, adding. “We do have a right in this country to descend and to criticize, this is a democracy and we are very proud of that, but we don’t have the right, I think, in the exercise of that, to attack other people’s freedoms.”
“What I found most offensive was they wrapped themselves with a Canadian flag to help justify their behaviour and that is what I found most offensive. That is not who we are as Canadians,” added Ravi Kahlon, the province’s minister of jobs and economic recovery, who was on hand in order to make the announcement about new nursing spots.
British Columbia has had generous and fairly open policies throughout the pandemic, said Dix, adding that with freedom, comes responsibility.
“We don’t have the right to abuse other people and other people’s freedoms in the interest of our own freedoms,” said Dix. “There are no freedoms without responsibilities … and part of our responsibility to one and other is not in exercising or chanting freedom to abuse other people’s freedoms. That doesn’t work, it can never work.”
At least 100 people in Ottawa are facing criminal charges after they were arrested by police during operations to disperse convoy protesters, a move Dix said he felt was necessary.
“I think the actions that have happened in Ottawa, which are obviously positive for the people of Ottawa, and the actions of the police here in British Columbia, have not just been appropriate, but they have been necessary,” he said.
While I was there, a man holding signs that said no honking entered the area. Protesters went near him and eventually he left. pic.twitter.com/iguNCT8ygA
— Nicholas M. Pescod (@npescod) February 19, 2022