INNISFAIL - Mayoral candidate Glen Carritt has surrendered his controversial plan to host a large outdoor anti-COVID restriction party next weekend.
The decision came Saturday (May 8) after Chris Scott, the operator of the Whistle Stop Café in Mirror, was taken away from his large rally in violation of a court injunction that prohibits him from hosting large gatherings to protest COVID restrictions.
"I am pretty saddened about the state that our country has gotten to, that we live in right now. It is not a good place no matter you stand on the coronavirus and the restrictions and whether your believe in them or not," said Carritt, who confirmed the arrest of Scott during his video reaction to the matter on his mayoral FaceBook page. "It doesn't make sense."
Carritt said the arrest of Scott forced him to drop his widely publicized plans for the May 15 Family Jamboree event.
"We have decided to put off the event on May 15 because so many people out there are hassling all the people that are on my campaign, the businesses in town. (Alberta Health Services) has given them all letters and threats they will be fined if they help out," said Carritt. "I am not worried about it. I'll stick up for myself and I'll go to the end to fight for what I will believe in.
"But I can't put anybody in jeopardy and I'm not going to put the kids in any kind of jeopardy with the mood of what is going on right now."
However, Carritt said he and organizers will go ahead with the planned July 1 weekend event, which will include a rodeo and fair. He said the location will be announced at a later date.
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As for the arrest of Scott, it came at around 6 p.m. on May 8 when he was gently led by RCMP to a police cruiser where he was handcuffed and placed in the back of the vehicle.
"In conjunction with Alberta Health Services, and discussions with legal council, the Alberta RCMP deemed this event as meeting the definition of an illegal public gathering as set out in the order," said RCMP Cpl.Troy Savinkoff in a news release. He said he could not confirm the identity of the person who was being arrested at the rally.
Savinkoff added the arrested person is not facing a formal charge but a violation of a Court of Queen's Bench injunction and could be held in civil contempt. He said the person is in custody and will be ordered to appear before the judge and show why he should not be held in civil contempt. No date has been set yet for the hearing.
Although weather conditions were wet and cold on May 8, Scott defiantly continued to proceed with his long-promised Save Alberta Campout Protest. He was under a Court of Queen’s Bench injunction order from May 6 forbidding him to do so.
The order also applied to Innisfail mayoral candidate Glen Carritt, who attended the May 8 anti-restriction rally in Mirror and had long promised to hold his own anti-restriction rally in Innisfail on May 15.
Savinkoff said there were no other arrests made at the Mirror protest rally but an investigation is continuing.
"The Alberta RCMP is currently in the process of gathering additional information with respect to other individual's participation in the organization of this event. Details on this may be provided later, after further investigation," said Savinkoff in his release.
Earlier in the day, Calgary street preacher Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid were arrested and charged with organizing and promoting an illegal in-person gathering.
Shortly before their arrests, Scott was in his vehicle doing a live Facebook report of the Mirror rally, which reportedly attracted at least 2,000 supporters. He mentioned the Calgary brothers’ arrest, and predicted it would soon happen to him.
“So, what happened to Artur is going to happen to me. In the next day or so I will be in cuffs and I will be on my way to jail because I am speaking out against what’s going on. That is not going to change,” said Scott. “Maybe some of you are going to see that and going to think, ‘hey this is great. This is awesome. This guy needs to go to jail, lose his health permit forever, never be allowed to do business but from what I am seeing the vast majority of you – you don’t agree with this.”
Minutes later, RCMP approached Scott, who was then outside his vehicle, and led him away. He was arrested and placed in a police cruiser. The arrest was captured during a live Facebook video feed.
The Albertan attempted to make contact with Carritt for comment on Scott's arrest, and to ask him if he was also targeted by the RCMP or AHS but he did not immediately reply to the newspaper’s request.
Carritt did post a video on his United We Roll For Canada Facebook page in the morning of May 8 just after arriving to the anti-restriction rally in Mirror. Later in the day he posted another video which featured rally speakers, including the well-known Dr. Roger Hodkinson, who passionately believes COVID is a hoax.
“I am showing everybody what the stage crowd is. I am estimating a couple thousand people here,” said Carritt on his later video as he walked through the stage crowd listening to Hodkinson’s speech.
Carritt was also at the Whistle Stop Café the previous day on May 7, a day after the Calgary court’s injunction ruling. He posted a video on Facebook that immediately reminded viewers of the Court of Queen’s Bench injunction against him and Scott, which, he added, prohibited him from attending the Mirror anti-restriction rally or putting messaging on social media “supporting business.”
“I am here to tell you I will not be controlled. I still live in a free country. I will continue to go where I want. I will fight for small businesses to be open,” said Carritt, who is running for mayor in Innisfail for the Oct. 18 municipal election, and was a featured speaker at the recent controversial anti-lockdown rodeo near Bowden. “We are losing all our rights, closing down schools, and they’re forcing parents to stay home with their kids.
“I will continue to fight for what I believe in. Until somebody can prove to me that the (COVID) numbers justify these measures and these lockdowns, which they have not done,” he added. “It is all about getting people the vaccine, and again I believe that is your freedom of choice to do so just as it is my freedom of choice. But we can’t be held down by a government.”
The Court of Queen’s Bench injunction against Carritt and Scott orders them to be restrained from organizing, promoting and attending an illegal public gathering, ones in conflict with the Public Health Act, at either a public or private place. The decision also forbids them to even promote illegal gatherings by social media.
The court decision also states that if anyone under the order breaches any condition they can be brought before the Court of Queen’s Bench and could be held in civil contempt.
AHS said its action sought a court order against all other organizers of advertised illegal gatherings and rallies breaching COVID-19 public health orders.