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Peterborough mayor tells ‘travelling clown convention’ of Bernier, Hillier to avoid anti-lockdown protest

Click to play video: 'Peterborough mayor tells ‘travelling clown convention’ of Bernier, Hillier to avoid anti-lockdown protest' Peterborough mayor tells ‘travelling clown convention’ of Bernier, Hillier to avoid anti-lockdown protest
Peterborough was trending on Twitter on Friday. After a war of words between the mayor and PPC leader Maxime Bernier and independent MPP Randy Hillier over an anti-lockdown protest planned for the city on Saturday. Mark Giunta reports – Apr 23, 2021

Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien bluntly told federal politician Maxime Bernier and Ontario MPP Randy Hillier not to attend a planned anti-lockdown protest in her city this Saturday.

“I know you boys are bored but …” Therrien stated in a tweet on Thursday evening which included an image of herself with a finger gesture and the words “Stay TF home.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Sloan, Bernier, Hillier among ‘end the lockdown caucus’

Earlier this week, Bernier, leader of the federal People’s Party of Canada, and Hillier, independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, stated their intentions to attend the weekly protest, which has been held each Saturday at Confederation Square across from city hall in Peterborough. Hillier on Wednesday confirmed with Global News Peterborough that he would be attending.

The protests, advocating that businesses remain open amid the coronavirus pandemic, have been organized by a group calling itself “No More Lockdowns Canada.”

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Both politicians have been staunch opponents of provincial and federal lockdown restrictions and health protocols across Canada and have attended a number of rallies and protests.

Earlier Thursday, Therrien, Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones and Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith issued a joint statement calling on the weekly protests to end and for people to find other ways to express opposition. They say many participants were not wearing masks and standing close together “in defiance of public health advice” and were “endangering others.”

“These gatherings have the potential to become super-spreader events,” they stated. “Thirteen people in Peterborough have already lost their lives to COVID-19. No one wants to see more families devastated by this pandemic.”

Peterborough Coun. Kemi Akapo in a separate tweet said it was “incredibly maddening and disappointing” to hear Bernier and Hillier were planning to attend the rally.

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“Your attendance will encourage people to break the lockdown orders, gather and further endanger the health and safety of Peterborough residents,” she said. “In the time we are all supposed to band together to keep our numbers low and help our healthcare workers, your actions will do just the opposite.”

In her first tweet after the statement was released, Therrien addressed Bernier and Hillier by saying, “The travelling clown convention isn’t welcome here.”

Bernier later responded to Therrien’s “I know you boys are bored” post with a tweet of his own: “Dear Madam Mayor of Peterborough, Canada is my home. #NoMoreLockdowns” while Hillier didn’t directly respond to the mayor, rather tweeted he is “proud to defend our freedoms” with Bernier.

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“When the French & the English stand together, Canadian Freedoms are unassailable. Lets show @dianeNtherrien what being Canadian means.”

Therrien’s tweet has created a firestorm of responses, many from individuals claiming to be from other areas who now plan to attend the protest. “Peterborough” was trending on Twitter as of Friday morning.

Therrien’s last tweet of the evening stated “Whoops I triggered the selfish dullards.”

On Friday in an interview, Hillier said he would describe the city’s mayor as “impolite” and “not for publication.”

“I’m not going to lower myself to her gutter language and actions,” he said.

Peterborough police have issued some tickets at the lockdown events for breaches of the Reopening Ontario Act. Most recently, four were issued for last Saturday’s protest.

Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef on Friday morning told Global News any out-of-town people planning to attend the protest is both “reckless” and “dangerous.”

Read more: Dr. Bogoch weighs in on Ontario-wide COVID-19 lockdown possibility

“Our community, just like the whole country, has made so many sacrifices over the past year,” she said. “Our frontline care workers have asked us to stay home, science is telling us to stay home, we’re getting vaccines into arms. If you’re coming to our community to create the potential of a super spreader event, to put our community at risk, there are 13 individuals who have died by COVID already. There are 13 families grieving already. And if you’re coming here to put more of our residents at risk, please don’t. It’s not worth it.

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“There are other ways to express your dissent, you have that right, but there are other ways to do so safely. And we have to listen to public health. Case counts are too high. We will put this behind us. We know this is tough. But coming here to create more chaos, to create more spread of this virus, is unkind, it’s reckless, it’s dangerous and it is not welcome.”

On Friday at noon, Smith again repeated his message, saying he understands people are tired and frustration, noting he’s now 51 and last saw his parents in person prior to his 50th birthday. He says the last mass gathering — a party at Severn Court Student Residence in the city’s west end — resulted in more than 60 cases and the death of a Fleming College student.

“Most of them will not be from Peterborough-Kawartha, some will from the GTA,” he said.”There is a high likelihood they will be bringing COVID-19 to here and a high likelihood there will be spread.

“You have the right to protest, you have the right to object but you do not have the right to harm someone else — and that is what you will be doing.”

On Friday, Therrien did not make herself available for comment with Global News to explain her tweets. Ashley Webster, assistant to the mayor, said Therrien felt she had to respond to residents “demanding” that she speak and stand up to the anti-lockdown protesters who are “planning to come here and endanger the lives” of city residents.

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“So that’s why she said what she did, and that’s why she put it so bluntly, and so plainly,” said Webster.

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