Ontario Premier Doug Ford on April 17 walked back new pandemic measures he announced just one day earlier, which included random police checks to ensure people complied with restrictions on social gatherings and organized events. But for one active-duty officer, things have gone far enough.
“I took an oath to protect the Constitution and to protect the public. [All police] took the same oath, and yet what’s happening in Ontario and other provinces, the Constitution’s being breached. Things are happening that shouldn’t be happening,” said the officer, who spoke to The Epoch Times on condition of anonymity.
“It makes no sense and yet it’s being done. I’m Canadian and I’m proud of it. I’m also proud of being a police officer and have no regrets, but I’m not proud of our government right now.”
The officer works for a large city police force, one of the biggest of 45 provincially mandated police services in Ontario, which include 44 municipal forces along with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). All of them made public that they would not comply with the government’s enhanced “spot checks.”
The OPP originally backed the premier, but according to independent journalist Andrew Lawton, who kept tabs, it reversed its decision shortly after Ford did. Lawson reported that several of the nine self-administered First Nations police services in Ontario also came out against the order.
The Epoch Times was put in contact with the officer by Police On Guard For Thee, a growing group of active and retired officers across Canada who decry the lockdowns and say they will not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to enforce public health orders.
Retired inspector Len Faul, who spent 11 years with the Metropolitan Police in England and 32 years with the Toronto Police Service, is the group’s public face and spokesperson.
Faul said his group is preparing to seek a judicial review of the COVID-19 public health orders police are being asked to enforce in Ontario, and he is hopeful that not all police forces are using a hammer-and-tongs approach.
“We’ve seen a situation, for example in Toronto, where the chief of police there is clearly putting a lot of pressure on all of his officers to stomp all over anti-lockdown protests,” he said.
“The chief in Vancouver has taken a completely different approach, going public that his officers have individual discretion. If they feel that they’re in a position where they have to lay a charge under the emergency measures, that’s entirely up to them.”
The active-duty officer whom The Epoch Times spoke with described a situation in his department similar to that of Vancouver—it has taken a laissez-faire approach in its dealings with the public during the pandemic.
“The way I saw it, if I would’ve been called to assist by-law, it’s no longer by-law’s issue, it’s mine, so I always looked at it as just trying to smooth things over, leave it as it is,” the officer said. “We were never asked to enforce anything unless it became, say, something hazardous to the public.”
The officer also has his own take on some of the high-profile incidents involving clashes between police and citizens over lockdown restrictions.
One of those led to police action being taken against Toronto BBQ restaurant owner Adam Skelly, who opened his restaurant in defiance of lockdown orders and was fined $187,000 by the City of Toronto for the costs it incurred while enforcing public health restrictions.
“My guess would be a lot of the officers are like, ‘I didn’t want to do this, I was told to.’ And I think a lot of them probably didn’t realize what they were being told to do was against the Constitution,” the officer said.
In another incident, the RCMP assisted Alberta Health Services to close GraceLife Church in Edmonton by surrounding it with fencing and 24-hour security.
“The fact that they would put a fence around [a church]—that’s a breach of the Constitution,” the officer said. “It is there in black and white [in the Charter], based on your ability to worship freely.”