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Alberta justice minister condemns COVID-19 protests planned for hospitals

Last Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 1:06 pm MDT

Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu speaks after a peaceful anti-racism rally in Red Deer turned violent. (PHOTO: Courtney Theriault, CityNews)

EDMONTON – Alberta’s justice minister is condemning those planning to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates outside Calgary and Edmonton hospitals Monday afternoon.

Kaycee Madu says in a series of tweets that while everyone has the right to peacefully protest, can “cannot disagree more strongly” with people who will be protesting at medical centres.

RELATED: Anti-vax-passport protests expected at Calgary, Edmonton hospitals

“COVID is real. Families’ lives have been shattered. Our healthcare workers have been doing indispensable work throughout the pandemic,” Madu wrote.

The premier echoed Madu’s statements.

“It is outrageous that a small minority feel it’s appropriate to protest at hospitals during the pandemic while our health-care workers continue to tirelessly battle the global menace of COVID-19,” Jason Kenney said in a statement.

Kenney says the right to protest is not without limits.

“Today’s protests must in no way obstruct the important operations of our hospitals, including the arrival and departure of emergency vehicles and workers. Blocking an ambulance is most definitely not peaceful protest.”

Madu and Kenney both say local law enforcement teams can enforce the UCP’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act where necessary.

Bill 1 was created to protect “essential infrastructure from damage or interference caused by blockades, protests or similar activities, which can cause significant public safety, social, economic and environmental consequences.”

Fines of up to $200,000 can be handed down to people or companies found to be in violation of the rule.

It came into effect in June 2020.

In Calgary, police say they will not tolerate anything that prevents patients or staff from getting in and out of the hospital.

“We are working with the protest organizers to lay out these expectations and we are also liaising with AHS as well as staff at the Foothills,” the Calgary Police Service said in a statement.

“We will have officers on-site and also have additional members on standby should they be required.”

Edmonton police also added that officers will not tolerate any attempts to disrupt hospital operations.