A Brampton City Councilor supports protesting at hospitals

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Published September 24, 2021 at 11:52 am

During Thursday’s (September 23) Peel Regional Council meeting, council introduced a motion that the Chair write to Premier Doug Ford urging him to pass legislation that would prohibit protests in front of hospitals.

In the aftermath of the Province’s announcement that proof of vaccination would be required in order to access certain, non-essential facilities and events, protests erupted across Ontario and other parts of the country, many of which took place in front of hospitals.

The demonstrations were criticized for further demoralizing health-care workers, as well as impeding patients from being able to access care, and blocking access for ambulances.

As a result, Council put forward a motion urging Ford to implement legislation that would prohibit these demonstrations from occurring on the premises of hospitals and schools.

“It’s about protecting the most vulnerable, which are the people in the hospital and our children. I think it makes perfect sense—we need to ask the Province to step up and do the right thing. Everybody has the right to protest, but not there. We need people to be able to get the care they need when they’re most vulnerable,” Allen Thompson, mayor of Caledon, said during the meeting.

“I also think it’s important that we support our health care workers and protect them from some of the types of protests we’ve seen,” Patrick Brown, mayor of Brampton, added.

Nearly every council member supported the motion, except John Kovac who abstained from voting, and Gurpreet Dhillon who initially voted against, before asking to have his vote changed to abstain.

“I can’t support the motion and I’ll tell you why. I think it’s hypocritical for a government to curb people’s right to protest,” Dhillon said. “When government starts to take these footsteps towards taking people’s rights away, I think it becomes a problem.”

“To tell our residents ‘we’re right and you’re wrong—you can’t protest at all, we don’t agree with your views’ and to put them down, I cannot support that at all. We live in a democracy and if you have an opinion, no matter how stupid it is, that’s your right, and I support your right to have a stupid opinion just like I support your right to have a valid opinion and one that I agree with.”

Council Chair Nando Iannicca clarified the motion was to prohibit protests on hospital and school grounds, not all protests, but that did not sway Dhillon, as he still did not vote in favour of the motion.

Regardless, the motion passed, and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie also suggested a City or municipal by-law be implemented that would prevent demonstrations at schools and hospitals similar to already-existing by-laws regarding smoking.

“I find this action deplorable. In my view, these protesters are infringing on patients’ rights to receive life-saving care and treatment and I think that supersedes the right to protest,” Crombie said.

She also clarified her position that she wasn’t against all protests, just protests at the aforementioned locations.

“We just don’t want the entrances to hospitals and ambulance bays blocked. We don’t want protests at hospitals that are providing life-saving care to patients—all patients, including COVID-19 patients,” she said.

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