Despite there being no mandatory masks policy in Saskatchewan, protesters felt it was important to voice their fears.
“I don’t see the mask issue as anything as a front from the government, a tool that they’re using to foster compliance,” said Cody Payant, who also accused the media of brainwashing the public to wear masks.
Over a dozen protesters in both Saskatoon and Regina took to the streets as part of a nationwide movement on Sunday called “March to Unmask”. Similar protests were held in Halifax and Calgary.
Protesters held up signs declaring they “won’t be muzzled” while other signs accused the government of suppressing their freedoms.
Several people in the crowd were supporters of the People’s Party of Canada, including Payant himself, who ran for a seat in the last federal election.
The anti-maskers also denounced vaccines, the coronavirus being a threat to seniors (“They’re not stupid, they can stay home,” said Payant), and businesses who require customers to use masks.
In Regina, Martine Carlina said she has stopped spending money in places where masks are required.
“If you want to wear a mask, you can go ahead, but at the end of the day, I won’t interact with you. I feel demeaned, and in fact, I feel demeaned by you wearing one,” said Carlina to a Global News reporter.
On Saturday, Quebec became the first Canadian province to make mask use mandatory in all indoor public places.
The City of Toronto has made masks mandatory for indoor spaces, while the City of Calgary is considering doing the same for public transportation.
A recent poll conducted by Ipsos for exclusively Global News between July 8 and July 10 found 71 per cent of respondents said they wear a face mask when entering an indoor public place.
Another 79 per cent said they would be supportive if masks were made mandatory by their municipality.
Eighty-two per cent said they feel fewer people would contract the virus if everybody wore a mask.
Currently, there are no plans to make masks mandatory in Regina and Saskatoon. However, the anti-maskers feel the mandate will soon be coming.
“This is the next series of things trying to be rolled by the government to get people to comply with their new leftist means of trying to control people, and intervene in people’s lives,” Payant said. “It’s too much government.”
The Saskatchewan government and local municipalities have been following the guidance from the province’s chief medical health officer.
Dr. Saqib Shahab has previously stated he could implement a mask mandate indoors should there be a need to further prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But for the anti-maskers, getting the coronavirus isn’t on top-of-mind like the issue of masks is.
“I’m not really concerned,” Payant said. “I’d get over it, probably.”
METHODOLOGY: This Ipsos poll was conducted between July 8 and July 10, 2020. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians from the Ipsos I-Say panel was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census information. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would be had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
With files from Connor O’Donovan and Nathaniel Dove.