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Edmonton police chief calls for calm amid weekend protests

Click to play video: 'Protests have exposed deep divisions in Canada' Protests have exposed deep divisions in Canada
WATCH ABOVE: Weeks of protests and counter protests have exposed deep divisions in this country, particularly over pandemic health measures. In Alberta where the Coutts border crossing was blocked by demonstrators, the Edmonton police chief issued a plea to the public. Chris Chacon explains – Feb 20, 2022

Edmontonians and police in and around the city’s downtown are bracing themselves for another weekend protest convoy.

This week the city’s police chief has been calling for calm, hoping that leaders and people will step up to help bridge the divide.

“A divided community can be a dangerous community,” Chief Dale McFee said in a press conference Wednesday.

Read more: Edmonton police chief calls for calm; defends response to truck protests, counter-protests

Chief McFee has described the apparent political divisions and rhetoric around COVID-19 measures as an ongoing “fire.”

“I’m asking and imploring political leaders, community members, everyone across the spectrum to help us put this fire out,” McFee said.

Measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent overwhelming the health-care system were ostensibly the impetus for the occupation of Ottawa and blockades at Canada-U.S. border crossings like the one at Coutts.

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And politicians of all stripes have expressed their opinions of public health measures during the pandemic.

University of Alberta sociologist Amy Kaler said it has been a long time since we’ve experienced this kind of a divide, pointing to the polarization around Canada’s role in the First World War.

“If you look at the dissent, divergent opinions and views around the First World War: conscription, the role that Canada should play or should not play,” Kaler said

Read more: Coutts blockaders discussed blocking airport cargo terminals: private threat assessment

Kaler said the good news here this time is the divisions might not be as deep. She said we hear from those most upset, but those voices represent a minority.

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The bad news is all that noise could make it harder to find common ground.

“Seeing these things almost gives this sort of permission effect for them to continue because (they think), ‘Yeah, it’s real. I saw somebody can do it. We’ve done it, so lets keep doing it,’ and it will take a while I think for that to die down,” Kaler said.

Meaning, Kaler said some views need to change and like chief McFee said, so too does the rhetoric.

–with files from Adam Toy, Global News

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