'Anything can be a setback': Hundreds gather for weekend rally in Uptown Waterloo

Hundreds of people gathered in Uptown Waterloo for another anti-lockdown over the weekend.

They gathered in Waterloo Public Square on Sunday for an event advertised on social media as a "Freedom Rally." Many weren't wearing masks or maintaining physical distancing.

"We are on the cusp of moving out of wave three during the pandemic and I think that's great for our community, but anything can be a setback," Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky said. "We've seen that happen at large single gatherings at other times, and now, with the new variants as well, I'm very concerned for this."

Maxime Bernier, the leader of the Peoples Party of Canada, was also at Sunday's event. Jaworsky said his presence made the event feel like a campaign rally, which he called "inappropriate" amid the pandemic.

"It was a campaign, political rally, which was not needed during this time," he said.

A spokesperson for Bernier said he hasn't received a fine for attending Sunday's event.

In an emailed statement to CTV Kitchener, the spokesperson said Bernier has attended rallies in several provinces to call for the end to lockdowns.

“Mr. Bernier has been attending rallies in several provinces for months already to put pressure on federal and provincial politicians to end the draconian lockdown measures that have been imposed on Canadians for more than a year now," the statement reads.

Jaworsky also raised concerns about people travelling from other areas in Ontario to attend Sunday's event.

"It is unfortunate that those from out of town chose to come to Waterloo to conduct a political rally while others are working to combat the virus," Waterloo bylaw said in a statement.

People have gathered in Uptown Waterloo for rallies like this one since mid-April.

Last week, regional officials announced a string of charges for people who attended similar events in early May.