A loose network of COVID-19 vaccine and lockdown protesters is using digital tools to make the federal election campaign one of the most vitriolic in recent memory, congregating in encrypted chats to track Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s whereabouts and organize disruptions of his public events. The protesters are posting the schedule for Trudeau’s public events the night before, including the addresses and times of his campaign events. In one chat, a member suggested that they received the itineraries from “a media person.” Another well-known GTA anti-lockdown protester bragged that he’s been sharing Trudeau’s itinerary online. The Star has been monitoring a group with more than 500 members, which uses the encrypted messaging app Telegram, since Saturday — the morning after dozens of angry protesters prompted Trudeau to cancel a campaign rally in the village of Bolton, Ont. The group is not explicitly partisan. While its chat is filled with expletive-laced rants against the Liberal leader, its members also criticize Premier Doug Ford over vaccination passports and Education Minister Stephen Lecce over back-to-school rules. Once Trudeau’s location is known, some group members organize carpools, while others meet up at the events and post live video from the crowd. Afterwards, they celebrate their efforts. “Looking to car pool with whom ever is going to be in Cambridge I’m in Bolton,” wrote one user, posting Trudeau’s itinerary for Sunday. “Just tried to get into the campaign office … Big crowd here of patriots. I think it’s Montreal tomorrow (but) even his own people don’t know,” wrote another, before an event on Sunday in Cambridge, Ont. That protester claimed to have successfully eavesdropped on Liberal volunteers discussing upcoming campaign stops in Montreal and Iqaluit. “If it is (Montreal) let me know my hometown and I will send many people,” another user replied. The Trudeau campaign did not expect this. While the Liberal leader preaches compassion and understanding in response to the protesters’ anger, his campaign did not anticipate either the level of anger being expressed nor the protesters’ apparent ability to co-ordinate. It is not known if other like-minded groups are mobilizing to disrupt Trudeau’s campaign, but the Telegram channel provides a window into how the small-scale protests that have greeted Trudeau on the campaign trail have morphed into angry, co-ordinated crowds. ‘For anyone who wants to know where Trudeau is going to be at next or who wants to partake in these rallies and these protests and show our forces, then send me a message and I’ll send you the link for the Telegram group. Enough. We got to let them know that wherever he comes, he is not welcomed,’ said Samantha Denuzzo, one of the channel’s most prominent promoters, in a video posted to Instagram on Aug. 28. “And what’s crazy is that he looks like a f—— fool, like he looked like a mad man just waving to the air, like waving to the people. I was there.” Denuzzo told the Star she has promoted the channel and the protests to her nearly 10,000 followers on her Facebook and Instagram accounts, because people are afraid and angry. In an interview on Monday, the 32-year-old Newmarket resident and mother of three said Trudeau and other politicians are pushing for a “segregation of humanity” between those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who are unvaccinated. It is for that reason, she said, that she has also advised her followers to join survivalist “be prepared” Instagram accounts in case unvaccinated people are barred from grocery stores in the fall — despite the fact that there have been no credible reports that any such move has been contemplated. “It’s going to be very, very dark times,” Denuzzo said in another video posted to Instagram in mid-August. “You’re going to need people to lean on and you’re going to need people within your community that you can lean on. But, like, are we just going to wait for that time to come? Are we just going to sit back and just wait for that time to roll in?” The Telegram channel monitored by the Star had 510 members as of Monday afternoon. It is owned by Ryan Michalowski, who frequently posts COVID-19-related conspiracy theory memes on his Facebook and Instagram channels. In a message to the Star late Monday, Michalowski said he did not “know or control what anyone talks about in there. The chat is for people standing up for the kids.” “These small, kind of micro-communities are part of a larger movement,” said Elizabeth Simons, a researcher with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network who has been monitoring anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination communities. “So when 50 to 100 people show up to these protests right now on the campaign trail, they’re not all being organized by one single source. They are being given the information from numerous different sources. It may look organized, but it likely very much isn’t.” Simons said she sees similarities between groups protesting against M-103, the federal motion condemning Islamophobia in Canada; the so-called Canadian Yellow Vest movement; and what she calls the “COVID-denialism movement.” “There are influencers, there are main nexuses that share information. But largely these are a number, sometimes upwards of hundreds of groups and forums, Facebook groups, Telegram groups that basically share information back and forth,” Simons said. But protesters like Denuzzo say they are not “anti-anything.” They say they are angry and frustrated with pandemic restrictions, vaccination passports and vaccination mandates. “To be clear, I am not anti-vaccine,” Denuzzo told the Star, saying she was not opposed to childhood vaccinations against diseases such as the measles, because “they have been tested and proven.” She rejects the expert consensus; in her judgment, COVID-19 vaccines are too new. “What I am against is experiments on children,” said Denuzzo, who would not disclose her own vaccination status. “I think it is very strange that people can suddenly think they can ask about your personal medical decisions,” she said, echoing a common talking point among opponents of vaccination mandates and passports. She said the movement has no leaders, just social media pages for “concerned citizens” to share information. Political parties are not funding the protests, she said. Trudeau has had run-ins on the campaign trail with individuals or small groups of anti-vaccination protesters since the federal election kicked off. It started on Aug. 16 in Cobourg, Ont. a day after Trudeau called the snap election. Video made at Trudeau’s event showed maskless demonstrators shouting obscenities as the Liberal leader greeted supporters. Since then, anti-vaccination demonstrators have been a fixture of Trudeau’s public events. Reporters travelling with the Liberal leader indicated that Trudeau’s typical response was to tell them to “please get vaccinated.” But despite Trudeau’s dismissal, videos from the encounters were tense — people screaming at Trudeau, a concerned-looking RCMP security detail, a volunteer getting knocked to the ground, increased police presence. The Liberal campaign also suspects that at least one protester followed the campaign from Ontario to British Columbia. The situation came to a head on Friday. Citing security concerns, the Liberal campaign abruptly cancelled a planned rally in the small community of Bolton, Ont. Trudeau’s campaign had no public events on Saturday. On Sunday, the protests resumed. A member of the Telegram channel posted Trudeau’s Sunday itinerary, which was initially shared on the Telegram page of Chris Saccoccia, a COVID-19 protester with a large following who is also known as Chris Sky. “Give Trudeau the welcome he deserves,” wrote Sky. “Awesome turnout! We found the p—-,” wrote one user after Sunday’s protest in Cambridge. “Amazing work everyone … United we stand against this piece of s—.” “Anyone know if he is attending elsewhere?” At Trudeau’s next campaign stop in Waterloo, a protester carried a sign that accused him of “high treason” and depicted him being led to the gallows. The sign carried the logo of The Line Canada, a prominent anti-lockdown protest group. The vitriol that was evident in Denuzzo’s most recent video — which was filled with expletives, unlike her past calls to action on Instagram — was a result, she says, of high emotion. Asked if there is a line between protesters being angry with Trudeau and calling for his execution, Denuzzo said she would not “judge or tell anyone what they should or should not say.” She went on to further justify the demostrators’ position with a baseless claim. “I think that is a rhetorical question, and I could turn it around and say it goes both ways, and say that Trudeau is killing children by forcing vaccines on them.” Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: Grant LaFleche is a St. Catharines-based investigative reporter with the Standard. Reach him via email:
CANDIDATE NAME: Scot Davidson RIDING: PARTY: Conservative Party of Canada AGE: 51 OCCUPATION: Member of Parliament RESIDENCE: Georgina PAST POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Member of Parliament, 2019 to present WEBSITE: Bio: I was born and raised in Georgina and still reside there with my wife Suzanne and son Graydon. I started my business career as a restaurateur in my early 20s and went on to own and operate several successful businesses in York-Simcoe. I have a keen interest in the outdoors and enjoy golfing, fishing and piloting small aircraft. Living and working within the farming and lakefront community for my entire life, I have developed a strong interest in the community and am committed to small business and the health of Lake Simcoe. Vaccinated: Yes. I received my vaccination when eligible, as they are a safe and effective tool to stop the spread of COVID-19. I encourage everyone who is able to get one — however, we must also respect the health choices of all Canadians and provide rapid testing to protect our most vulnerable. If elected, I pledge to … Focus relentlessly on jobs, wages and getting Canada’s economy and finances back on track as quickly as possible, while making life more affordable for Canadian families. Conservatives will also prioritize health funding, ensure accountability in Ottawa and secure our country by building up our domestic manufacturing capacity.
If Barrie had thousands more like Andee Pelan, the city would be that much closer to meeting its lofty goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But with many residents throwing up their hands in frustration in the face of the climate crisis or denying it’s even a problem, convincing everyone to do their part can be a monumental challenge. “When people say, ‘It’s too big; it’s China’s problem; it’s the government of Canada’s problem,’ then you lose hope in having any control,” Pelan said. “Given the option, I’m gonna choose hope. I’m leaving my daughter a world that I don’t think is going to be as good as the world I was left, and I want her to know that at least her mom did what she could.” Pelan, director of the non-profit , was watering fruit trees she and other volunteers planted near Edgehill Drive when she paused to be interviewed for this story. Planting trees is one of the projects Living Green has taken on to battle climate change at the grassroots level. It’s a positive step, but Pelan knows it will take much more to help the city reduce greenhouse gases created by residents. According to for its greenhouse gas emission reduction plan, the big culprits are residential homes heated by natural gas and private vehicles powered with gasoline. About 55 per cent of emissions in the city are spewed by vehicles, while another 27 per cent come from homes. Living Green is working alongside the city to persuade drivers to go electric and homeowners to switch to solar or an electric furnace. Both options require hefty upfront costs but come with significant savings in the long run. “We’re in an instant-gratification, the lowest-price-is-the-law, kind of community,” she said. “In the long run, going green is cheaper. But it’s hard to explain that to people in 30 words or less.” A virtual public meeting on greenhouse gas emissions in April pointed to the same dilemma. Minutes from the meeting show speakers called on the city to educate citizens on the need for change. “Education is critical; people do not like change, and messaging that focuses on increasing their understanding of how climate change affects them or their future grandchildren may help,” one quote reads. Some residents may want to retrofit their homes, knowing it will save money and reduce greenhouse gases, but can’t afford the upfront costs. Mayor Jeff Lehman recognizes that challenge and offered a solution earlier this year. He favours a program setup where a company, organization or philanthropist covers the cost of major home retrofits. They could then collect a fee based on a percentage of the property’s monthly energy cost savings. “The average homeowner won’t want to drop $100,000 on a comprehensive package of upgrades,” he said. “But if somebody came to them and said, ‘We’ll provide the upgrades and take some of the upside benefit, and you’ll pay for it that way,’ that’s a very powerful way of doing things. You split the savings. There’s a real model here.” Pelan supports the city’s work on greenhouse gas emissions but adds that courageous leadership and serious funding is needed from Ottawa. “You think of anything that’s happened of any significance in human history, and it’s because somebody took a bold move that was outside of what all the naysayers said.” That said, Pelan never underestimates the power of doing the little things, like the young volunteers who pitched in to help care for the fruit trees. “The two little kids that were out there, they’re seeing their parents model a behaviour,” she said. “That is going to be everything for who they become in the future.” STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With the effects of climate change becoming more evident, reporter Rick Vanderlinde decided to find someone who could inspire individuals and offer hope.
Ontario is reporting another 864 cases and three more deaths, released Thursday morning. Ontario has administered 35,463 , with 21,283,180 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night. According to the , 11,047,037 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 84.8 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 74.3 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine. The province says 10,236,143 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 78.5 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 68.9 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine. The province now includes data that reflects . Ontario warns that the new process may cause discrepancies between other hospitalization numbers being collected using a different process, and that the data may not match daily COVID-19 case counts. The province reports 533 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in unvaccinated people, 56 were partially vaccinated, and 209 cases in fully vaccinated people. Again, the province warns the data may not match daily COVID case counts because records with a missing or invalid health card number can’t be linked. The seven-day average is at 732 cases daily, or 35.2 weekly per 100,000. Ontario’s seven-day average for deaths is at 7.6 daily. The province says 34,365 tests were completed the previous day, and a 2.4 per cent positivity rate. There are 348 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, including 167 patients in intensive care testing positive for COVID-19. There are 120 people on ventilators. Locally, Ontario reports 162 cases in Toronto, 122 in Peel Region, 78 in York Region, 64 in Ottawa and 53 in Hamilton. Meanwhile, one more residents in long-term care has died for a total of 3,807 since the pandemic began, . Ontario is reporting no new long-term-care homes in outbreak, for a total of seven or 1.1 per cent of LTC homes in the province. This data is self-reported by the long-term care homes to the Ministry of Long-Term Care. Daily case and death figures may not immediately match the numbers posted by the local public health units due to lags in reporting time. There is one more confirmed case of the Alpha variant first detected in the United Kingdom, for a cumulative total of 146,452 cases. There are no new cases in Ontario of the Beta variant first detected in South Africa, for a cumulative total of 1,502 cases. There are no new cases of the Gamma variant first found in Brazil, for a cumulative total of 5,227 cases. There are 236 more cases of the Delta variant first detected in India, for a cumulative total of 15,925 cases. Urbi Khan is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach her via email:
More than 86 per cent of employees and trustees have attested to being fully immunized against COVID-19. The number is 68 per cent within the . Ontario’s chief medical officer of health requires all publicly funded school boards in the province to implement a COVID-19 immunization disclosure policy for the 2021-22 school year. The local boards have released the data and will update it monthly. Those who are not fully vaccinated, must complete COVID-19 rapid antigen testing twice per week. And, those who do not intend to be vaccinated without a documented medical reason, are required to participate in an education session provided by the about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination. SIMCOE COUNTY DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD The vaccine policy applies to 6,667 board employees and trustees; of which 5,792 say they are vaccinated (86.8 per cent). It also applies to 723 “other individuals,” of which 575 say they are vaccinated (79.5 per cent). The “other individuals” category includes those frequently in schools or other settings who may have direct contact with students or staff. For example: contractors, social workers, other professionals, and student transport staff. These numbers include those with and without supporting documentation, states the board. Provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated: two people in the “employees and trustees” category. Not yet submitted an attestation form: 375 within the “employees and trustees” category (5.6 per cent) and 148 in the “other individuals” category (20.5 per cent). Simcoe County District School Board vaccination disclosure data is available here: . SIMCOE MUSKOKA CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD The vaccine policy applies to 3,523 board employees and trustees; of which 2,392 say they are vaccinated (68 per cent). It also applies to 783 “other individuals,” of which 623 say they are vaccinated (79.6 per cent). The “other individuals” category includes those frequently in schools or other settings who may have direct contact with students or staff. For example: contractors, other professionals and student transport staff. These numbers include those with and without supporting documentation, states the board. Provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated: seven people in the “employees and trustees” category. Not fully immunized for a reason other than medical: 236 in the “board employees and trustees” category (6.6 per cent) and 160 in the “other individuals” category (20.4 per cent). Not yet submitted an attestation form: 888 within the ‘employees and trustees’ category and zero in the “other individuals” category. Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board vaccination disclosure data is available here: . CONSEIL SCOLAIRE VIAMONDE The vaccine policy applies to 2,739 board employees and trustees; of which 1,702 say they are vaccinated (62 per cent). It also applies to 2,358 “other individuals,” of which 1,654 say they are vaccinated (71 per cent). The “other individuals” category includes those frequently in schools or other settings who may have direct contact with students or staff. For example: contractors, social workers, other professionals, and student transport staff. These numbers include those with and without supporting documentation, states the board. Provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated: Five people in the “other individuals” category (0.2 per cent). Not yet submitted an attestation form: 859 people in the “employees and trustees” category (31 per cent). This information is not yet available in the “other individuals” category. Conseil Scolaire Viamonde vaccination disclosure data is available here: . MONAVENIR CATHOLIC SCHOOL BOARD The vaccine policy applies to 2,571 board employees and trustees; of which 1,708 say they are vaccinated (66.4 per cent). Number of partially vaccinated people: 98 (3.8 per cent) Provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated: 11 people (0.4 per cent). Number of people who do not plan to be vaccinated, without a medical reason to justify it: 119 (4.6 per cent). Not yet submitted an attestation form: 635 (24.7 per cent). MonAvenir Catholic School Board vaccination disclosure data is available here: .
Grabbing a lottery ticket at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Essa Road in Barrie proved lucky for Cheryl Ryerse. She ended up matching the last six of seven numbers in a Lotto 6/49 Encore ticket from the May 12, 2021 draw. She has now claimed her $100,000 prize. Ryerse participated in a virtual prize claim process as OLG is limiting the number of in-person prize claim appointments. Adding Encore to a ticket costs an extra dollar, with 22 ways to win.
It’s not that executive director Aaron Lutes wants to see more cancer patients step through his door. But he is concerned that the number of people getting an early diagnosis of some forms of cancer has diminished. “Cancer screening since the start of the pandemic has dropped dramatically, by over 50 per cent on average in the province,” Lutes said. “This is starting to play out in the emergency room and doctors’ offices with devastating cancer diagnosis.” Cancers not caught early are more advanced with deadlier outcomes, Lutes said. ’s manager of prevention and screening Mark Unwin said the lower statistics throughout the province right now are a result of the government requesting health care providers reduce screening in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. It was done to allow health care staff to respond to the pandemic, he said. However, now they are playing catch-up to get patients back for their regular cancer screening tests. For example, a colorectal fecal test is done for people aged 50 to 74 every two years, Unwin said. In order to get back to regular numbers, 10,000 fecal tests need to be done in Simcoe-Muskoka, which could mean 16 positive tests in that group — using local averages. Unwin also noted 15,000 mammograms need to be done, with a potential of 71 positive results. And there’s also a backlog of 16,000 pap tests, which could show approximately 53 patients with an abnormal result. “These are staggering statistics, but I don’t want the message to be that we handled COVID-19 improperly. I think this is just an unfortunate consequence of the pandemic.” It also unfortunately disproportionately affects women, Unwin said. The good news is getting a screening test for breast, colorectal or cervical cancer is easy and booking times are available, Unwin said. “It’s important you contact your family doctor now to get up to date on these tests,” he said. “It’s safe to get this screening done. Some people are still hesitant to interact with the health care system at this time.” Call the Simcoe Muskoka Cancer Screening Hotline at for more information.
Listen here or subscribe at , , , or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts, including , where Closed Captioning is available. Stay updated on episodes via our . If you would like to support the journalism of the Toronto Star, you can at . Guest: Lior Samfiru, employment lawyer and co-founding partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP in the workplace aren’t hypothetical anymore. They are real. The has one for their employees, as does the for people in high-risk settings. Those new rules are filtering down to private business, with Canada’s big five banks and Air Canada to get vaccinated in the return to work. But is it legal? Can your employer make you get vaccinated? If you refuse, can they legally fire you? We parse through all the details of employment law, explain the ins and outs of rights for employers and employees alike, along with the legal challenges to come. Adrian Cheung is a co-host and producer on the Star’s podcast team. He is based in Toronto. Reach him via email:
Fast food giant McDonald’s has made a change to one of its COVID-19 policies due to the changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant chain says it will no longer be publicly reporting COVID-19 cases at its locations across the country; something McDonald’s did since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. “At McDonald’s Canada, our top priority is to protect the health and well-being of our employees and our guests – it’s at the core of everything we do. In addition to our existing high standards of cleanliness, restaurants have implemented enhanced protective measures during the pandemic to ensure every part of the McDonald’s experience is safe,” according to a statement on the McDonald’s COVID-19 tracker page. “Throughout the pandemic we have communicated restaurant closures due to COVID-19 so that restaurant employees and guests were continually informed of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in restaurants and could take proper measures. This was important during the early months of the pandemic and we posted an ongoing COVID-19 tracker to report on any change of status in our restaurants.” However, McDonald’s added, “due to the increased numbers of Canadians who are vaccinated, a corresponding reduction in impacts on our operations, and the introduction of vaccine passports or cards for restaurants in most provinces, the tracker has been discontinued.” The company says it will continue to operate in line with guidance from public health authorities and all levels of government. McDonald’s joins whose stores include No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore and Shoppers Drug Mart, who earlier this summer also decided to no longer make public COVID-19 cases in its stores. However, many other stores including continue to report cases at their store locations.
Ontario once again contributed a strong contingent of athletes to Canada’s Paralympic team, but the 13-hour time difference to Tokyo can make it tough to follow when your local favourites are competing. We’ve got you covered with this guide, which we’ll update every Monday through Thursday during the games at noon so you can plan your viewing for the week. Looking to catch local athletes in action on weekends? , which is updated each Friday at noon during the games. All times listed are Eastern Daylight Time. Check below to see if an athlete from your area is competing today, and click on their names for more information. Athletics Men’s 800m — T34 round 1 — heat 1 Sept. 2, 10:29 p.m. Athletes involved: 4x100m universal relay — round 1 — heat 3 Sept. 2, 11:36 p.m. Athletes involved: Women’s 100m — T64 — final Sept. 3, 6:14 a.m. Athletes involved: *4x100m universal relay — final Sept. 3, 8:17 a.m. Athletes involved: Sitting volleyball China vs. Canada women — semifinal Sept. 3, 7:30 a.m. Athletes involved: Swimming Men’s 100m butterfly — S11 — heat 2 Sept. 2, 9:52 p.m. Athletes involved: *Men’s 100m butterfly — S11 — final Sept. 3, 6:41 a.m. Athletes involved: Wheelchair basketball Germany vs. Canada men — classification playoff 7/8 Sept. 2, 11:30 p.m. Athletes involved: Canada women vs. Japan — classification playoff 5/6 Aug. 30, 11:30 p.m. Athletes involved: *if necessary
Barrie is opening the tap to help those struggling to pay their water and wastewater bills. The city has introduced a new financial assistance support program to help offset water and wastewater costs for low-income households. This allows successful applicants to be credited a portion of their bill. “Council understands that with more people working, learning and caring for people at home, water bills have become a larger part of people’s monthly costs,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said. “Through this new support program for low-income households, the city can give a hand to those struggling with the cost of living.” Program applicants must be permanent, full-time residents with a current residential water and wastewater billing account. The application must pertain to a principal residence and the applicant has to qualify as low-income based on the Canadian government’s 2020 cut-off. The city currently has 44,978 active water and wastewater billing accounts — 42,454 are residential. Supporting documentation will be required for proof of income, and applicants must reapply annually. Residents can fill out an application form (available through city hall’s Service Barrie desk or downloadable ) and either email it to , or drop it off at, or mail it to, city hall (, P.O Box 400, postal code: L4M 4T5). More details on the program can be found at .