Hundreds turned out for a “freedom” rally in Maple Ridge on Saturday, March 12. (Screen grab)

Hundreds turned out for a “freedom” rally in Maple Ridge on Saturday, March 12. (Screen grab)

“Freedom” rally takes to the streets of Maple Ridge

Hundreds attend the protest in Memorial Peace Park

Hundreds gathered in Memorial Peace Park Saturday morning to rally for their “freedom.”

Between 200 to 300 people took part in the gathering organized by the local chapter of Action4Canada, which included a march from the Maple Ridge park, up and along Lougheed Highway, north along 228th Street to Dewdney Trunk Road, then west again, and back to the park.

Andrew Dodge, Ridge Meadows chapter leader for Action4Canada, and event organizer, explained the rally was for freedom of choice.

He complained that people who refused the vaccine are unable to use city facilities. He called the vaccine untested and experimental, and claimed that it contains the AIDS virus.

“Six per cent of our property taxes go towards the facilities here, and we can’t use them,” he said.

Participants at the rally sported signs saying “Don’t Turn Canada Into China,” “No to Coercion,” “Help End Tyranny,” and “End all mandates.”

Speakers at the event included Action4Canada founder Tanya Gaw, Conservative MP Marc Dalton, and Maple Ridge City Councillor Chelsa Meadus. Julius Hoffman of the People’s Party of Canada was on the schedule to sing the national anthem.

Dalton said he decided to speak at the event because the hundreds gathered are his constituents, and he was asked to speak about a letter he wrote to Premier John Horgan about keeping unvaccinated health-care workers employed.

Dalton said he would like to think it was his letter that helped reverse the province’s decision to to require all regulated health professionals to be vaccinated by March 31 if they wanted to work in their occupation in this province.

Another reason the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP decided to speak at the event was his belief that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should have talked to the leaders of the recent trucker convoy protest that blocked downtown Ottawa streets for about three weeks at the end of January into February – rather than ignore them.

He didn’t have to agree with them, said Dalton, but at least have a conversation.

“I felt it was hypocritical of me to say something about Justin Trudeau that I wasn’t able to back up myself,” he said.

“These are my constituents. I need to be there to listen and to share – I think that was good news that I had to share,” he added.

READ MORE: Anti-vaccine passport group takes to the streets of Maple Ridge

Dalton said he wasn’t at the rally to endorse the leadership.

“Some things I can line up with and some things I have troubles with,” he said of the organization’s views.

He said he left when comments were made that he wasn’t comfortable with.

Meadus spoke to the crowd about a letter from the mayor’s office sent to the province asking that all facilities be open to every citizen – and not just those with a vaccine passport.

“When the mask mandate came in, everybody was treated equally,” noted Meadus, and facilities were safe for all because people were wearing masks, and programs were being run at reduced capacity.

“For me, I would of rather had our facilities closed to everyone than just a certain segment of the population,” she said about the introduction of vaccine passport requirements.

Moving forward in the fall, Meadus told the crowd, if passports are reinstated, she hopes there will be more equality.

Some people, she said, blamed small local businesses for requiring vaccine passports – when, in fact – she informed them, it was a provincial mandate.

ALSO: Vaccine protesters descend on Maple Ridge school

She also addressed, what she perceives, are negative feelings in the community related to the provincial pandemic mandates. It will, she said, take time to recover.

Additionally, the Maple Ridge councillor said, she wanted to use her speech to inspire people to get into politics. A lot of new people have become more engaged with issues in the community because of their stance on vaccine passports and provincial health mandates.

“It’s a huge opportunity, moving forward, for them to either run for positions or support people who align with their views and values,” said Meadus.

Dodge said the rally brought together people of all ages and it was the first rally where a local council member, an MP with the opposition party, and freedom fighters all spoke the same message.

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