Randy Hillier said he doesn’t care how many charges he gets for speaking out against Ontario’s COVID-19 lockdown, something he did Monday in Chatham.
The defacto leader of the province’s growing anti-lockdown movement, and maverick MPP, said it’s part of the price to pay for stopping the country’s “social murder,” brought on government’s COVID-19’s “false, fear-based agenda.”
“I don’t’ care how many tickets they give me,” the independent MPP told a vocal and enthusiastic 300-plus crowd at Chatham’s Tecumseh Park Monday.
“We can wallpaper our walls with tickets. We must regain our freedom. No more lockdowns.”
Hillier, who represents the riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, was among the anti-lockdown heavy hitters at the podium, part of a grassroots movement against COVID-19 government restrictions.
“We’re not hysterical,” he said. “We have faith in ourselves, faith in God and faith in democracy.”
A comment that all government leaders and health officials affiliated with COVID-19 lockdowns “need to resign” was met by wild applause.
Along with fist pumping and clapping, chants of “No More Lockdowns,” “Fire Doug Ford” and “Trudeau, Let My People Go” filled the spring air.
Henry Hildebrandt, an Aylmer preacher who has become lightning rod for government criticism, and Hastings-Lennox-Addington MP Derek Sloan, also a vocal critic, came out swinging against the Ford government and local officials.
Other speakers, also becoming well known for their anti-lockdown messages, stepped forward to address the crowd, including Leamington restaurant owner Kristy Leathem and Windsor pastor Aaron Rock.
Chatham barber Michael Smulders said government is hurting small business, and local artist Penelope Duchesne, who read a letter on behalf of a woman recently charged with organizing a freedom protest.
As owner of a small business, Smulders called out Chatham-Kent’s elected officials for not hearing the message from small business.
“No one has listened,” he added. “It’s been minimal effort at best.”
The jeans-and-suspender clad Hillier got the celebrity treatment. Dozens of people crowded around the veteran politician, taking pictures and shaking hands.
Hillier told rally goers there’s “no roadblock big enough to stop Canadians from being free.”
Some of the speakers, and many in the crowd, were especially critical of government’s curtailing of worship gatherings.
Chatham resident Pat Lambier said she attended the rally to protest the restrictions at churches.
“It’s about being a Christian and not being able to worship,” Lambier said. “You can buy alcohol, but you can’t go to church.”
A former employee of public health, Lambier called the current lockdown and restrictions “despicable. I can’t believe what is going on.”
Brenda Swain, also of Chatham, said she can’t understand the government’s rationale when it comes to what people can buy.
She said she needed a zipper to fix some clothing but was not allowed to buy it, even though it was right beside the milk she purchased.
Shirley Faas, also of Chatham, proudly carried a sign protesting the lockdown, and said she doesn’t believe COVID-19 is real.
“I don’t believe it’s what they say it is,” Faas explained. “I believe it’s a flu.”
Democracy is being threatened by the COVID-19 nonsense, she added, with the country at risk of being “taken over” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other officials.
A Chatham-Kent Police Service drone hovered over the event for its duration, but as of press time, no charges were announced by the either the police or the municipality.
Both Hillier and Hildebrandt have been charged with defying COVID-19 stay-at-home orders in the past.
Story by: Jenna Cocullo, The Chatham Voice, for Local Journalism Initiative Reporter