This morning, hundreds of thousands of Canadians gathered in front of their computers to partake in worship services due to COVID-19 health restrictions.
As a whole, Canadians have followed our political leaders and health officials throughout this crisis and its devastation on our economy.
Anyone who broke guidelines was swiftly and publicly shamed, if not fined or threatened with legal actions.
Over the past week we saw the same health officials and political leaders that wouldn’t allow churches to meet in parked cars expressing that mass gatherings and protests should not just be allowed, but encouraged.
The Prime Minister himself ignored social distancing guidelines to take a knee at a demonstration in Ottawa, surrounded by thousands of protesters.
Watching health officials and politicians reverse course so swiftly this week leads us to conclude:
Either their recommendations and guidelines were heavy handed and unnecessary, OR they were so eager to gain the approval of a large electoral block of voters, many of whom are people of colour, that they were dishonest with them about the health risks of the protests and demonstrations.
In fact, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, instead of warning against protesting in large numbers, simply suggested that demonstrators consider wearing masks and limit yelling, because "shouting and making loud projections can potentially increase the risk".
These messages line up exactly with plans that churches had already put forward to various government as guidelines for reopening.
Yet not only was no reopening plan granted for churches and other religious gatherings, the elected officials themselves didn't even follow their own rules when joining in the protests.
The inconsistency is maddening.
I support the rights of Canadians to protest. I support the right of every Canadian to take a knee.
But if people are allowed to gather together on their knees in a call for justice, then we must allow people to gather together on their knees in prayer.
If these protests are not a danger to the public health and those participating, then our officials owe an apology not only to people of faith who are still prohibited from gathering in any meaningful way, but also every Canadian who has been kept from the bedside of a dying loved one.
Canadians are reasonable and we are willing to make sacrifices of our freedoms for the common good. But our leaders must be accountable and transparent, and if they have restricted our freedoms without reason, they need to answer for it.
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