Lockdown protesters are undermining their own objective: PM Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling out people gathering in large groups to protest public health restrictions, suggesting their demonstrations are having the opposite effect.

“These protests are supposed to be about getting back to normal, but by spreading the virus, they do just the opposite and prolong lockdowns,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday.

He thanked Canadians who are heeding restrictions, suggesting they’re not only motivated to see society to return to some semblance of normality, but they also understand it comes down to respect.

“The reason so many Canadians are following public health measures isn’t just because they want to get back to normal, it’s because they care about their neighbours and our frontline workers,” he said. “Do it because you respect your fellow Canadians.”

Thousands gathered in Bowden, Alta. for a two-day “No More Lockdowns’” rodeo over the weekend. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney condemned the event and the rodeo-goers, stating it was not only a threat to public health but a “slap in the face” to anyone following the rules.

Alberta has the highest number of COVID-19 infections per capita within Canada and the U.S.

According to CTVNews.ca's tracker, there have been an average of 440.5 daily cases per million people in the last seven days, more than any other province or territory in Canada as well as every U.S. state. Cases had been trending upward since March and continue to climb.

Trudeau said the federal government continues to offer support to Alberta, as they’ve done with other provinces facing a surging third wave.

Last week, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Red Cross would be deployed to Ontario and Nova Scotia to help lift the burden in ICUs and other health-care settings.

The Alberta government is set to unveil new restrictions Tuesday as cases rise.

Trudeau addressed anti-lockdown demonstrators last week, days before another planned protest in Montreal, stating that while freedom of speech remains important during the pandemic, it “must be done safely.”

Organized by group “Quebec Debout,” thousands gathered at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday to decry COVID-19 restrictions.

Health officials in the city were forced to close the vaccination site at the stadium after the call went out to protest, and dozens of vaccination appointments were rescheduled or moved to other clinics.

With a file from CTV News’ Tom Yun & Daniel J. Rowe