Some may call them the resistance against social distance.

But Premier Doug Ford calls them a “bunch of yahoos.”

One thing a group of about 200 protesters outside Queen’s Park Saturday didn’t achieve was moving the goal-line any closer to ending the lockdown.
They may have in fact prolonged it.

“Open up Ontario! Open up Ontario!” they chanted.

However, it was the way many of them disrespected physical distancing rules on the Queen’s Park lawn that served as a collective thumbing of the nose to government efforts to save lives here and around the world.

“It just burns me up,” Ford told his daily briefing inside Queen’s Park while the demonstration was going on outside. “Obviously they don’t care about everyone else in Ontario.”

Toronto Police officers were on hand but didn’t write bylaw infraction tickets.

People gather at Queen’s Park to protest against the COVID-19 shutdown, in Toronto, Ont. on Saturday, April 25, 2020.

Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia

The reason, spokesman Meaghan Gray said, was because the protesters “practised good social distancing when asked to do so.”

Even though Ford was hot about it, he and the police were wise to not overreact.

With all of the media there, that image to the world would look bad and they’d have fallen into the trap being set for them.

Many of the protesters seemed like professional agitators you see at most demos and not the mom-and-pop business people who quietly agree that there must come a point where a loosening of restrictions may be necessary to save the overall economy.

But when people are screaming profanities and holding the Canadian flag upside down in a distress signal, they aren’t offering productive solutions so much as being rabble-rousers.

People gather at Queen’s Park to protest against the COVID-19 shutdown, in Toronto, Ont. on Saturday, April 25, 2020.

Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia

“Absolutely irresponsible,” said Ford, calling the protesters “reckless” and “selfish.”

I could see the premier was steamed when he left in his SUV.

He’s been emotional all week about the deaths of so many in long-term-care facilities, which led to a request for help from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Ford’s own mother-in-law has COVID-19, so it’s a stressful time for him.

Even though I understand why the premier was irritated, it must be said there were some legitimate demonstrators in attendance with cogent points and suggestions.

Unemployed chef Joshua Clausen held a sign that mentioned losing his job, wanting to get a haircut and, as a “single father,” wondering if his 17-year-old son will be able to go to college in the fall.

It’s understandable that he and many others want to know when this crisis will end.

“I don’t understand why McDonald’s and Walmart can be open but smaller businesses can’t be,” Clausen said.

Banker Rowan Czech-Maurice agrees and wonders why some businesses are deemed essential while those that are likely going to go out of business are not.

“If this (lockdown) continues, it will leave a lasting, permanent effect on the economy and that will cause concern for our health-care system,” he said.

Those two guys weren’t yahoos, they were making key points. They weren’t making a mockery of the 2-metre rule. They weren’t mocking Ford, Mayor John Tory or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which some were clearly there to do.

They just want a careful, logical, common-sense easing of restrictions and slow return to normalcy.
But the premier insists that before any of that can happen, people have to be patient as they try to beat COVID-19 into submission.

For ideas such as using today’s technology to let people in small numbers into parks while wearing masks and keeping 2 metres apart to be employed, people can’t figuratively spit in the face of authority and expect it to buckle.

A little finesse and compromise will be needed before middle ground on this will emerge.
Next time, perhaps, organizers should let Joshua and Rowan do most of the talking.

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