While a handful of people were holding signs and fighting against public health orders put in place by the provincial government, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer (CMHO) was working.
Dr. Saqib Shahab said he’s often working over the weekend and learned from others about the rally outside of his Regina home on Jan. 23.
“I feel sorry for my good neighbours who didn’t deserve to be harassed like this and also for my family who doesn’t deserve to see and hear these kinds of comments,” Shahab said Tuesday, addressing the gathering publically for the first time.
Over the past six weeks, Shahab has been mentioned at rallies in front of the legislature, needing security while walking to his car and over the weekend, it reached his block.
The premier said while most protests in front of the legislative building are respectful, this was different.
“What we saw this weekend was a protest that moved from protesting a government decision to protesting a person. That isn’t us in this province and it needs to stop,” Scott Moe said during the press conference.
He said he’s unsure if it was racially motivated, however pointed to a December incident where a speaker at a rally made racist remarks on the steps of Saskatchewan’s Legislative Building.
The Saskatoon Anti-Racism Network said making Shahab the target of the protests could come from a sense of white superiority.
A facilitator with the group noted the protesters didn’t have to single out the CMHO, because the elected members of government ultimately decide what health measures to put in place.
“The fact that they chose Dr. Shahab as a target of harassment and intimidation … it’s based on this idea that he’s a foreigner and that he doesn’t belong,” Manuela Valle-Castro told Global News.
Moe noted security has been offered to Shahab and his family to ensure their safety and so he can continue his work.
Meanwhile a Regina defence lawyer said anyone looking to continue protesting outside of the CMHO home could be breaking the law.
Nicolas Brown told Global News while people have the right to assemble, anything seen as affecting an individual can be interpreted as harassment.
“I think when you start to see or if you start to see something that is repeated or something that goes above and beyond what these people have done on this singular occurrence where further police action may be necessary in order to rein these protesters in to a certain extent,” he said.
Brown said the charter right doesn’t offer unfettered access to protest in front of someone’s home and rallies are best held in front of public places rather than residential streets.
The doctor added no one should be targeted because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation saying successful societies are inclusive.
“The response to this protest by the vast majority of the public was more eloquent than I can ever be and it gives wind to my sails certainly — and that is what Saskatchewan is all about and what Canada is all about,” Shahab said.
The premier said the province is looking at what can be done about protests in front of public servant’s homes.View link »