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‘The utmost disrespect’: Doug Ford slams 2nd Toronto protest against coronavirus restrictions

Doug Ford calls out anti-shutdown protesters as Ontario moves to reopen some businesses Monday
WATCH ABOVE: Doug Ford calls out anti-shutdown protesters as Ontario moves to reopen some businesses Monday

Ontario Premier Doug Ford criticized a group protesting coronavirus-related restrictions at Queen’s Park on Saturday, the second such event in as many weeks.

Ford said he observed the Canadian flag being held upside down at the protest, which he called “the utmost disrespect.”

“What just burns me up more than anything, more than them standing out there, is I look out the window and I see our Canadian flag being flown upside down,” Ford said a press conference.

Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says he won’t direct police on how to handle Queen’s Park protests
Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says he won’t direct police on how to handle Queen’s Park protests

READ MORE: ‘Bunch of yahoos’: Doug Ford blasts Toronto protest against coronavirus-related restrictions

“That’s the utmost disrespect to the men and women that are overseas fighting for our freedoms. Our Canadian military. The six families that lost loved ones in the crash last week. The 250 men and women that are in harm’s way walking into the long-term care homes and saving people’s lives … The people of Canada [who have] all been united through this challenge.”

Images posted to social media show several people holding the Canadian flag upside down at the event, which drew dozens.

Having the country’s flag upside down is used as a sign of distress, according to the federal government.

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A man speaks to protesters at Queen’s Park as the Canadian flag is held upside down in the background.
A man speaks to protesters at Queen’s Park as the Canadian flag is held upside down in the background. Global News

“I understand people are hurting out there. And people want to get back to work,” Ford said, adding that he knows people have the right to protest.

“But what they’re doing is putting their lives in jeopardy as far as I’m concerned with congregating side-by-side.”

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Last Saturday, a similar protest was held at Queen’s Park. At the time, Ford called those in attendance a “bunch of yahoos.”

READ MORE: Ontario reports 511 new coronavirus cases, 55 deaths as total cases top 17K

Ford said it’s up to the police and bylaw officers to ticket protesters if they are violating physical-distancing rules.

In Ontario, gatherings of more than five people are currently prohibited and many municipalities, including Toronto, have their own additional physical-distancing laws in place.

Police told Global News no tickets were handed out at Saturday’s protest. No tickets were handed out last week either.

“Don’t be flying our Canadian flag upside down. That means everything to the people of Canada and our men and women on the front lines,” Ford said.