Tank: Saskatoon Police Face New Questions Over COVID-19 Enforcement

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Saskatoon police have previously faced questions about their zeal to enforce COVID-19 restrictions.

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Saskatoon police said charges were expected in connection with a People’s Party of Canada event on federal election night where most of the hundreds in attendance were unmasked.

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Questions persist as to why the event was not raided by police and closed, given its potential to become a COVID-19 super-spreader event.

PPC leader Maxime Bernier said he had moved to Saskatoon for his election night due to restrictions on gatherings in other provinces. Saskatchewan’s only health order required people to wear masks in indoor public spaces like the Saskatoon Inn ballroom where the event took place.

Deputy Police Chief Randy Huisman said last week that police chose not to end the event for fear it would “worsen” the situation.

This answer raises many legitimate questions about how the police enforce the laws.

One wonders what exactly escalation would look like in this case, since the only apparent law that was violated was the mandatory mask order. Would a visible police presence have prompted those present to try and convince more people to attend the party without masks?

For a movement fueled by anger over the pandemic and any restrictions aimed at trying to limit illness and death, the September 20 rally was hardly seen as furious. It could have been one of the happiest gatherings on election night for a party that failed to elect a single candidate.

Huisman said police were at the scene to collect information, so they may have uncovered evidence that the gathering was more dangerous than it looked.

The people gathered for this party may have extreme opinions, but the events of the PPC were not marked by violence – unless you counted a crushed egg on Bernier’s head during a campaign stoppage prior to Saskatoon.

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Still, it could well be considered the most perilous event in Saskatchewan during the pandemic, as it took place indoors, hundreds of people attended and the reluctance to get vaccinated likely fell. off the charts.

PCP has grown in popularity and popularity thanks to its opposition to pandemic restrictions and vaccine passports, so the chances that many, if not most of these people will not be vaccinated seem high.

If these same people catch COVID-19, they also seem more likely to ignore or ignore the symptoms.

The sheer numbers of people at the event may have deterred police from raiding, but that’s also what makes it so dangerous. A group of 10 unmasked people might have been easier to close, but they also pose less risk of spreading.

The reason so many people were so appalled by the event is reflected in the COVID-19 statistics for September 20 in the Saskatoon area. Active cases rose to 1,157, the highest of any area in the province this year, topped since Tuesday by 1,171.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the Saskatoon area also exceeded 100 for the first time on September 20.

Huisman’s statement that the rally “doesn’t look good for Saskatoon” seems like an understatement.

Saskatoon police have previously faced questions about their zeal to enforce COVID-19 restrictions. They responded in May by issuing 34 tickets for an outdoor event, aided by posting photos of participants online.

But questions also remain about the seriousness with which these cases are prosecuted. By the end of August, 456 charges had been laid under the public health decree, but only 11 fines had been paid in full, despite 104 convictions.

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The amount collected in fines, $ 28,422, suggests that none of the high-profile $ 14,000 fines imposed on companies for public health violations have been collected in full.

Fellowship Baptist Church – which brazenly defied pandemic restrictions and even displayed a sign saying police and government officials were banned from entering property – had its $ 14,000 fine postponed this month for the second time.

When asked about the PPC event last week, Prime Minister Scott Moe called it “unfortunate,” even though the English language provides stronger adjectives that many would find more appropriate.

As active cases and hospitalizations in Saskatchewan reach new heights, the PPC event provides an opportunity to send a message about how seriously people should follow the rules – and how seriously they will be enforced.

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  1. People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier speaks with supporters during their election night rally at the Saskatoon Inn.  Photo taken in Saskatoon on Monday, September 20, 2021 (Michelle Berg / Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

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  2. A truck with a People's Party of Canada flag walks past more than 200 people gathered near the east entrance of the Saskatoon Municipal Hospital on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 to protest the mandatory proof of COVID-19 vaccination for frontline health workers.  (Phil Tank / Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

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