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‘Freedom convoy’ organizer calls for months of COVID mandate protests in BC capital

Ottawa protest organizer promoting Calgary-to-Victoria convoy to start March 19
Drivers protesting COVID-19 mandates travel in front of the B.C. legislature on Jan. 29. More protesters are expected to descend upon the city in late March following a rallying cry from one of Canada’s “freedom convoy” organizers. (Black Press Media file photo)

One of the organizers of Canada’s convoy protests against COVID-19 mandates is calling his followers to turn their attention from Ottawa to Victoria.

James Bauder, the founder of group Canada Unity, said he’s organizing a new convoy to depart from Calgary on March 19 and descend upon B.C.’s capital.

“B.C. is going to be a really big event. We’re looking at two, three, four months, however long it takes,” he said in a Facebook video.

While several provinces have lifted their vaccine passport and mask mandates, B.C. has chosen to keep such measures in place for the time being. This, combined with its NDP government, makes the province an important target, according to Bauder.

“The health minister out there has lost her marbles,” he said, apparently referring to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Bauder is calling the convoy Bear Hug B.C. and says they’ll be giving the NDP a big ‘ol hug until it “takes ownership” for what Bauder claims are harmful and illegal health measures. He clarified he doesn’t just want mandates to end, he wants to ensure they never return.

He says drivers will be protesting in Victoria regularly, but noted there won’t be any blockades, like in Ottawa.

Asked what measures, if any, the Victoria Police Department plans to implement, and how seriously it’s taking the possible incoming convoy, Const. Cam MacIntyre said he didn’t want to speak to potential preparations or operations. VicPD’s approach to any protest is to protect public safety and ensure people are exercising their rights in a safe, lawful manner, he said.

Mayor Lisa Helps deferred most questions to VicPD, but said the city has no further plans to change its noise bylaw beyond its March 3 decision to make offenses ticketable on the spot.

Victoria MP Laurel Collins was more outspoken. In a tweet following Bauder’s announcement, she said: “We saw what you did to Ottawa. Our city doesn’t want you or your convoy here. Go home.”

The Office of the Clerk for the Legislative Assembly of B.C. declined to comment, but said staff are aware and monitoring the situation.

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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