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Kelowna RCMP says it won’t tolerate unruly anti-vaxxers as B.C. enforces passport system

Click to play video: 'Kelowna RCMP says it won’t tolerate unruly anti-vaxxers as B.C. enforces passport system' Kelowna RCMP says it won’t tolerate unruly anti-vaxxers as B.C. enforces passport system
The officer in charge of the Kelowna detachment giving a warning that those who continue to disobey public health orders could be facing more than just a fine. Jules Knox reports. – Sep 13, 2021

The top Mountie in charge of the Kelowna RCMP detachment said officers will not tolerate unruly anti-vaxxers who disrupt businesses trying to enforce B.C.’s new vaccine passport system.

Kara Triance, officer in charge, said police officers will respond to calls about people causing a scene at non-essential businesses, mandated by the government to require proof of vaccination.

“For those who continue to flop the current health directions, the newly initiated vaccine passport, or any of the public health orders, we will continue to utilize all of our powers to address this through community safety,” Triance said during a press availability on Monday.

Read more: Anti-vaccine mandate protest at Kelowna hospital draws massive crowd

“This includes our criminal code authorities for fraud, assault, mischief, cause disturbance, or uttering threats. There are also powers from the public health orders which allow us to lay fines and enforce those important health regulations.”

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Triance said approximately $10,000 in fines have been levied against people who refuse to comply with public health orders to date.

It’s unknown if any of the fines have been paid.

“The provincial and federal laws are there to keep us safe. The Kelowna RCMP will take calls from any citizen or business that’s unable to operate due to those who are flagrantly disobeying the public health orders or uttering threats,” she said.

Read more: Several hundred protest COVID-19 measures outside of Kelowna General Hospital

Triance noted that police have also responded to several anti-vaccine, anti-mask protests at Kelowna City Hall, the Kelowna General Hospital, and downtown Kelowna areas.

“It is our job to strike a balance between the charter protected right to use their voice and protest as well as balance the rights and needs of citizens. Essential services and health care is a right for a citizen and if they need to get into the building and there’s a crowd blocking that, we will take the appropriate measures to help them get there.”

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Triance was questioned about why hospital patients didn’t receive police escorts through the angry crowds on Sept. 1 to access medical services.

The Mountie admitted that police were not prepared for how large the crowd became, with approximately 1,000 protesters in attendance.

“Despite our intelligence gathering work and our criminal analysts, acquiring as much information as they could head of time, we didn’t have a sense of the true picture of numbers that were there,” she said.

Read more: ‘Fraud is a crime’: B.C. doctor pens open letter to people asking for vaccine exemption notes

Triance concluded her comments by issuing some optimistic words about the community rallying together to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We’re getting closer to the end of this now and it’s not the time to lose our fight. We must focus on respecting and protecting each other as this resurgence and wave of the pandemic move forward with local outbreaks,” she said.

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Starting Monday, the province’s Vaccine Card program went into effect, meaning that people will have to show proof of one dose of COVID-19 vaccination and two doses by Oct. 24 to access certain indoor settings, including ticketed sports events, concerts, restaurants, gyms and movie theatres.

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Some Okanagan businesses expressed apprehension about staff members being responsible for enforcing a controversial health order, while others welcomed the passport system as a way to ensure a safe environment for employees and customers.

-With files from Jules Knox 

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