Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 600 new cases of COVID-19, 4 deaths; Alberta doctors ask government to restrict unvaccinated people from indoor spaces as ICU admissions hit all-time high

The latest news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 8:56 p.m.: As hundreds of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filled Alabama intensive care units, hospital staff in north Alabama contacted 43 hospitals in three states to find a specialty cardiac ICU bed for Ray Martin DeMonia, his family wrote in his obituary. The man was finally transferred to Meridian, Mississippi, about 274 kilometres away. That is where the 73-year-old antiques dealer died Sept. 1 because of the cardiac event he suffered. Now his family is making a plea. “In honor (sic) of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID related emergencies,” his obituary read. Alabama for weeks has seen a surge of mostly unvaccinated patients filling hospitals and intensive care units, making it increasingly difficult to transfer patients to other facilities for specialty care, said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association. Jennifer Malone, a spokesperson for the Cullman Regional Medical Center, confirmed DeMonia was a patient and said he needed to be transferred to receive a higher level of specialized care not available at Cullman. She could not comment more for privacy reasons, but said the “continued surge in COVID patients has saturated tertiary care hospitals creating an ongoing and increasing challenge for Cullman Regional staff to find hospitals able to receive patient transfers when needed.” Alabama on Monday had 2,474 COVID-19 patients in state hospitals of which 86 per cent were unvaccinated, according to the Alabama Hospital Association. 8:33 p.m.: Alberta doctors called on the government to restrict unvaccinated people from indoor public spaces on Monday, as COVID-19 intensive care admissions reached an all-time high. Numbers released by the province show 198 Albertans with COVID-19 were receiving intensive care — surpassing the previous record of 182 admissions in May. Alberta Health Services, as of Monday morning, said the number was even higher, at 202. Alberta Health Services also said intensive care capacity was operating at 90 per cent with surge spaces added. Without additional surge beds, capacity would be at 148 per cent. In an open letter, 65 intensive care physicians urged the United Conservative government to take urgent action to protect the health system. “It is our opinion that the current measures do not go nearly far enough to interrupt transmission or reduce barriers to vaccination. It is also our opinion that the current state of health-care capacity in Alberta is so dire that waiting to see the results of current, less stringent measures will result in devastating consequences,” reads the letter. “To prevent broad restrictions like those required in earlier waves, we are calling for immediate implementation of certificates of immunity that individuals must provide to enter any indoor public spaces for the purpose of accessing anon-essential service.” 8:30 p.m.: It was supposed to be a “great Saskatchewan summer.” But on Monday the province saw 449 new cases of COVID-19 — its highest single-day count of new infections during the pandemic. The same day, it also re-enacted an emergency order to deal with a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations. There were 209 people in hospital with COVID-19, 41 of them in intensive care. The order, which previously ended July 11, gives the government the power to redirect health-care workers to areas experiencing pressure from COVID-19. And the Saskatchewan Health Authority activated a plan to reduce elective surgeries to free up staff, mainly to care for unvaccinated patients in hospital with the virus. Premier Scott Moe said last week that 17,000 health-care worker shifts were unfilled in July, an increase of 160 per cent from the year prior. Beds are limited as well. The health authority said it increased its 79 intensive care beds to 130 to accommodate a projected need for 80 COVID-19 intensive care patients, while also leaving beds for 50 ICU patients without COVID-19. Moe said the rise in summer cases has put a “tremendous strain” on the province’s health-care system, but his Saskatchewan Party government will not implement any restrictions at this time. He said he believes vaccination is a choice. 5 p.m.: Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 122 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, and Premier Blaine Higgs says new measures may be required to motivate more people to get vaccinated. There are now 229 active cases in the province and 11 people are hospitalized, including nine in intensive care. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell describes the current fourth wave of COVID-19 as an epidemic among the unvaccinated and those not yet eligible for vaccination. She said 86 per cent of the new cases involve people who are not fully vaccinated. Higgs said the increase in the number of hospitalized cases is concerning and additional public health measures will be considered. “Cabinet will be meeting later this afternoon to … determine whether new requirements are needed to ensure our hospitals do not become overwhelmed, that our schools will continue to operate as normally as possible and that we can keep New Brunswick in green,” Higgs said, referring to the province’s colour-coded COVID-19 alert system. 4:58 p.m.: Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting five new cases of COVID-19 in the province Monday. Four of the cases involve students under the age of 19 while the fifth involves a person in their 60s who recently travelled outside of Atlantic Canada. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says there are now eight confirmed cases at West Royalty Elementary School and two at Charlottetown Rural High School. She says so far officials have not been able to find a link between the cases at the two schools or with off-island travel. 4:56 p.m.: A U.S. federal judge on Monday ordered the state of Iowa to immediately halt enforcement of a law passed in May that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Judge Robert Pratt said the law substantially increases the risk of several children with health conditions of contracting COVID-19. Pratt said he has looked at data on the effectiveness of masks to reduce spread of the virus and agrees with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics on mask-wearing in schools. His order said Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo cannot enforce the new law banning local school districts from using their discretion to mandate masks for students, staff, teachers and visitors. He issued a temporary restraining order to be in effect immediately. It remains in effect until the court issues an order for a preliminary injunction. 4:47 p.m.: The number of COVID-19 cases is rising in Quebec schools since they reopened following the summer break — but that’s to be expected, according to a pediatric health expert. The rise in cases among children is predictable given the increasing transmission of the Delta variant in the general population and the fact children under 12 can’t yet be vaccinated, Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, said Monday. But Papenburg said there’s no evidence the Delta variant is any more likely to cause severe illness in children than the original strain of virus. While there has been a rise in pediatric COVID-19 patients in parts of the United States, Papenburg said that is occurring in places where vaccination rates remain low. He said those low rates have led to much higher transmission among all segments of the population, including children. Papenburg said higher vaccination rates in Quebec should help protect those who are too young to be vaccinated. “I’m hoping that our vaccination rate in Quebec is going to actually prevent that,” he said. Quebec’s public health institute said Monday there were 414 active outbreaks in the province, 52 of which were in primary schools or preschools and 69 were in daycares. On Friday, the Health Department said there were 657 schools in Quebec with active cases of COVID-19, an increase of 66 from Thursday. 4:28 p.m.: Before they go to work, dozens of Miami International Airport employees have been put to the sniff test by a pair of specially trained dogs that can detect COVID-19. So far the pilot project launched last month has detected a pair of cases, and will be extended until October and could be expanded to other key facilities. Cobra, a Belgian Malinois, and One Betta, a Dutch shepherd, inspect staff at a checkpoint where employees are required to remove masks and dangle them in front of either dog. The dogs sit to signal if they detect an odour produced by volatile organic compounds common to those infected with COVID-19. The dogs are 97.5 per cent accurate in detecting the virus, said Dr. Kenneth Furton, provost and executive vice-president of Florida International University. Thus far, the dogs detected two cases. One employee tested positive; the other was recovering from COVID-19. If the dogs signal for COVID, the employee would take a rapid test and, if they tested positive, they would be asked to leave and quarantin

Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reports 678 cases of COVID-19, no deaths; TDSB requires staff to get vaccinated; Toronto, Peel, health units want provincial certificate

The latest from Canada and around the world Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 6:05 p.m. Albertans will be able to print off a card to show they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but province-wide rules requiring proof of vaccination to enter places such as restaurants or sports events remain off the table, reports The Canadian Press. “Alberta will not be following other provinces in implementing a vaccine passport program,” Justin Brattinga, spokesman for the Jobs, Economy and Innovation Ministry said Thursday in a statement, according to CP. “If an Albertan has received their two doses, they should be confident that the risks of serious health effects are exceedingly small,” he said. Lisa Glover with Alberta Health said residents will soon be able to print off their vaccination card. “We are working on this functionality right now, however, we do not (have) a timeline on when this feature will be ready,” said Glover. In the meantime, residents can use the paper confirmation they received when they got their shots, she said. Glover urged Albertans to review the vaccination rules of the places they plan to visit. The recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the province and elsewhere across Canada has prompted some jurisdictions to take more active measures on vaccine passports. Quebec is to launch its program next week. Confirmation is to be downloaded digitally. As of Wednesday, only those 13 and up with the vaccine passport will be able to go to non-essential venues where COVID-19 transmission could be high. The spots will include festivals, performance halls, sports arenas, casinos, cinemas, fitness centres, bars and restaurants. There will be no restricted access to essential services, such as schools. Starting Sept. 13, in British Columbia, people carrying a B.C. Vaccine Card will be allowed to enter high-transmission, non-essential venues. Proof of a single dose will be required initially and full vaccination will be needed by Oct. 24. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has dismissed bringing in vaccine passports. In July, he questioned whether they would meet personal privacy rules. His government has been criticized of late for moving too quickly to declare the pandemic over and for lifting all but a handful of public health restrictions July 1. Alberta now has a patchwork of mask and vaccine mandates. Rules vary among schools, universities, businesses and sports teams. Alberta’s case numbers have been shooting up, with 1,076 new cases were reported Wednesday, the highest since mid-May. Active cases, hospitalizations and patients in ICU are at about one-third of what they were at the height of the last wave, when they threatened to swamp hospitals. Even with smaller numbers, hospitals are dealing with staff fatigue and shortages, which have led to cancelled surgeries and bed closures. Kenney has stressed voluntary vaccinations as the way out of the pandemic. Lottery and other prize draws have been created as incentives to Albertans to get their shots. About 77 per cent of eligible Albertans (those over age 12) have received at least one dose, while 69 per cent are fully vaccinated. David Shephard, health critic for the Opposition NDP, said Alberta needs a revised plan to deal with rising case numbers. He suggested Kenney is rejecting new measures to appease party faithful and caucus members in rural strongholds that oppose health restrictions. “It appears that their plan is to do nothing,” said Shepherd. 6 p.m. The Greater Toronto Hockey league is requiring game officials to be vaccinated. 5:14 p.m. Faced with the province’s refusal to implement a COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination system, local public health units in Ontario are considering regional vaccine certificates, though they acknowledge the measure would be less effective, reports The Canadian Press. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, head of the Local Association of Public Health Agencies, said a provincial system would help control access to certain activities and settings based on vaccination status, according to CP. If that doesn’t happen, he said the group of local public health units has discussed the possibility of using regional vaccine certificates similar to those being implemented in other provinces. “We had a conversation, and it was an exploratory conversation because we’re still hoping that there will be a provincial approach,” Roumeliotis said Thursday in an interview. “If it’s done in a regulation or a law or a provincial directive, it’s just easier to do, rather than to have multiple health units issue orders and issue directives. Really, from the logistics point of view, it’s just an easier way to do it.” Roumeliotis, who is also the medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, noted that a growing number of institutions are already asking for proof of vaccination in order to attend, even without a province-wide mandate. A standardized certificate from the province would help facilitate those policies, he said. A spokeswoman for the health minister pointed to the receipts people can download or print after receiving their COVID-19 shots as an option should proof of vaccination be required. Roumeliotis and others have argued, however, that those receipts can be forged and are difficult to read. Peel Region’s top doctor said, this week, that the COVID-19 hot spot is looking at options for a local proof-of-vaccination system if the province doesn’t develop one. Dr. Lawrence Loh said Thursday that the idea, and discussions with other health units about it, is in early stages and likely won’t involve a new physical certificate or digital record. “We’re looking at … ways to use existing proofs of vaccination,” he said, adding that it’s the health unit’s preference that the province develop the technology. The mayor of Mississauga, a large urban centre in Peel Region, said she doesn’t consider regional vaccine certificates to be a practical solution. “I believe a standardized, provincewide proof-of-vaccination program is more effective than a patchwork of programs and apps developed by regional public health officials and local businesses,” Bonnie Crombie told a news conference. Toronto Public Health has also expressed support for a provincial system. Ontario’s chamber of commerce released guidance this week for private businesses seeking to develop proof-of-vaccination protocols, saying it did so “in the absence of government guidance.” British Columbia and Quebec have said they will require proof of vaccination to enter certain settings, but Ontario has not indicated it will implement a similar system. Premier Doug Ford has rejected the idea of a domestic “vaccine passport,” saying he doesn’t want a “split society.” The province’s COVID-19 science advisers have said that vaccine certificates would allow high-risk settings to reopen sooner with greater capacity and help plan to reintroduce public health measures as cases rise. Ontario reported 678 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with 537 of the infected people not vaccinated or with unknown vaccination status. 2:47 p.m. The United Kingdom is moving Canada to its “green” list for travel beginning next Monday, reports The Canadian Press. That means Canadians travelling to the U.K. will not have to quarantine upon arrival, even if they have not been fully vaccinated, according to CP. The British Department for Transport says they will still need to take COVID-19 tests within three days before leaving for the U.K. and another one two days after arriving. The change will take effect Aug. 30 at 4 a.m. 1:56 p.m. Even though a vaccine mandate for health workers could lead to cancelled surgeries and other service disruptions, the health order is necessary to protect workers and patients, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said Thursday, The Canadian Press reports. Some workers may choose to quit their jobs instead of being vaccinated, but the ones who stay will be protected from the novel coronavirus and likely won’t need to take sick leave, Dubé told a legislature committee in Quebec City, according to CP. Dubé and other members of the government took part in the first of two days of hearings on their decision to force healthcare workers in the public and private sector to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Workers will have until Oct. 15 to get two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or risk being reassigned or suspended without pay, he said. About 30,000 workers in the public health-care system are not vaccinated, Dubé said, adding that the number in the private health system is likely even higher. And while some may choose to quit, which could lead to service disruptions, the alternative is worse, he said. “In an environment where resources are extremely stretched, we cannot allow more staff to be withdrawn for reasons that could have been avoided through proper vaccination,” Dubé told the committee. “Our objective with this measure is to protect our most vulnerable, but also to maintain our hospital capacity and maintain our level of care, notably by reducing absenteeism.” At the peak of the pandemic, 12,000 healthcare workers were absent due to medical reasons, Dubé said, adding that around 2,000 workers are currently on medical or preventive lea

Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reports 848 new cases of COVID-19; immunocompromised should receive third COVID-19 mRNA vaccine: NACI

The latest news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 7:05 p.m. British Columbia health officials are reporting 820 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the active infections in the province to 5,850, The Canadian Press reports. In a news release Friday, they say another nine people have died from the virus, which brings the total number of fatalities to 1,856, according to CP. The Fraser region reported the highest number of new cases, at 264, followed by 253 in Interior Health, and 112 in Vancouver Coastal Health. Officials say people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 78 per cent of the 4,661 cases from Sept. 2 to Sept. 8. They say people who are not vaccinated are 35 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who have had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. They say about 79 per cent of those eligible in B.C. have now received both shots. 5:01 p.m. Quebec’s premier and education minister on Friday condemned anti-vaccine protests taking place outside Montreal high schools this week as the province reported its highest daily COVID-19 case count since May, The Canadian Press reports. “It’s unacceptable to see the anti-vaxxers getting our children involved in their fight,” Premier François Legault told reporters in Quebec City, according to CP. “Please, get our children out of this debate.” Education Minister Jean-François Roberge spoke out against what he called the intimidation of children and school staff by anti-vaccine activists. Earlier in the week, a small group of anti-vaccine protesters outside Louis-Riel high school in Montreal urged students not to get vaccinated, spouting false conspiracy theories that the sudden death Tuesday of a Grade 10 student at the school was a reaction to vaccination. The 15-year-old girl’s family told the Journal de Montréal she, in fact, had a heart condition and had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since June. Roberge said it was irresponsible of demonstrators to use the tragic death of the teen to fuel disinformation. “Going around schools, instrumentalizing children, intimidating children and school personnel, this is unacceptable,” he said on Friday. On Friday, Quebec reported 879 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number of daily cases in the province since mid-May. The Health Department reported four more deaths linked to the disease, and the number of hospitalizations rose by nine, to 207, with 72 people in intensive care. Quebec’s public health institute said Laval, Montreal’s large northern suburb, remains Quebec’s most affected region, with 175.6 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. It is followed by the neighbouring region of Lanaudière, with 100.3 active cases per 100,000 people. There are 70 active cases per 100,000 people across the province. Legault said Friday he is concerned about rising COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations, saying it’s why Quebec has acted by introducing measures such as mandatory masks in schools, a vaccine passport and requiring vaccinations for health-care staff as of mid-October. “It’s getting worse, not as (bad) as in the United States or Europe, so we have to be very careful,” Legault said. The Health Department says the number of elementary and secondary schools reporting active COVID-19 cases rose to 564 on Wednesday, the most recent day for which data is available. It says 776 students and 94 school staff members have active cases of COVID-19. The public health institute says 88.1 per cent of residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 82.7 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated. “The vast majority of people in hospitals are people that are not vaccinated, so please, the 12 per cent who didn’t get at least one dose, get your dose,” Legault said. 4:51 p.m. Alberta Health Minister, Tyler Shandro, accused of not doing enough to stop a COVID-19 surge swamping hospitals, says the government wants to see the effect of recent health restrictions before adding any new ones, reports The Canadian Press. A week ago, Shandro reintroduced a province-wide mask mandate, along with curfews on alcohol sales in bars and restaurants, to stem a steep rise in COVID-19 that has overrun intensive care wards and forced hospitals to reassign staff to care for the critically ill, according to CP. Due to staff displacement, up to 60 per cent of non-urgent surgeries have been cancelled across the province, including all such procedures this week in the Calgary zone. Physicians with the advocacy group Protect our Province say the current measures won’t tur

Today’s coronavirus news: U.S. CDC asks Americans to ‘reconsider travel’ to Canada; TTC to expand service ahead of school year; Ontario reporting 694 new cases of COVID-19

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 9:24 p.m.: The Durham Region Health Department is urging people who attended two more Oshawa basketball tournaments to get tested for COVID-19. 1313 Boundary Rd. in Oshawa, between Aug. 3 to 8 to get tested after more than 20 people reported testing positive for COVID-19. Now, people who showed up for tournaments at the same facility between Aug. 13 and 15 and between Aug. 20 to 23 are also urged to get tested. The health department has been notified of three cases of COVID-19 linked to the Canadian Youth Basketball League (CYBL) tournament that began on Aug. 13 and the cases are from Durham and Peel. In this case, people are urged to get tested if they currently or recently had symptoms of COVID-19. 8:28 p.m. B.C. is prepared to give out COVID-19 booster shots should they be required and recommended by Health Canada, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday. He said the COVID-19 booster shot is something health officials have been “preparing now for some time” both within and beyond the long-term care sector, and for those who are immunocompromised. “So, we’re looking at that,” he told a news conference. More than 76 per cent of those eligible are fully vaccinated in B.C., while about 84 per cent have received their first dose of the COVID-19 shot, the government said in a news release. The province recorded 1,853 new cases of COVID-19 over the three-day period that began Friday. The province said Monday there were 5,918 active cases across B.C., with Interior Health reporting the highest number of cases at 707. That three-day period also saw seven COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,814. Fraser Health said it has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Chilliwack General Hospital after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit. Three patients have tested positive in the outbreak that’s limited to one unit, which has been temporarily closed to new admissions, the health authority said. The emergency department remains open and no other areas have been affected at the hospital, where enhanced cleaning and contact tracing are in place, it said. The Northern Health authority also announced a new COVID-19 outbreak at the in-patient unit of the Fort St. John Hospital over the weekend. Three patients and two staff have tested positive for the illness and infection control measures are in place, including enhanced monitoring for symptoms, it said. An outbreak continued at White Rock’s Peace Arch Hospital, along with 13 outbreaks in assisted-living and long-term care homes when the province last issued an update on the virus. Last week, Health Canada said in a statement that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization continues to review evidence on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines booster shots in those who are immunosuppressed. The committee was expected to update its recommendations in the coming weeks, it said. “Current data to date shows most people have good immunity that is sustained for at least six months after receiving their second dose, however it is not yet clear how long immunity lasts nor known whether and when additional shots are required to sustain immunity for Canadians.” 7:27 p.m. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his government will support local businesses and workplaces that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, but won’t mandate vaccine passports. At a news conference Monday, Moe called government-mandated vaccine policies a “heavy-handed” approach and said working collaboratively with those who choose to enact these policies would be successful. Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba are the only provinces to announce provincewide vaccine passport systems. Moe said his government is already working with organizations, such as the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team, to “work out the logistics” of such programs. “We will do the same with any other teams, leagues, concerts… or large event venues that do choose to move in this direction. We will also support any employers that choose to move in this direction,” said Moe, who noted the province is creating a digital QR code that can be used by businesses or venues. Other large organizations that have introduced vaccine policies are the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Regina. Moe’s comments come days after some of the province’s leading doctors — including Cory Neudorf, an interim senior medical health officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority — called on the government to introduce measures such as mandated masking and vaccine passports for a

At least 20% of Ontario PPC candidates have participated in hostile anti-vaccine protests. Why some say their attendance legitimizes dangerous beliefs

People’s Party of Canada candidates are participating in and organizing increasingly rancorous protests targeting hospitals and politicians, a strategy that coincides with the once-fringe party’s rapid rise in public support. At least 20 per cent of Ontario PPC candidates have attended the often vitriolic protests where attendees push a kaleidoscope of conspiracies and vaccine misinformation, Torstar has found. A review of local news stories and the social media accounts of all 116 Ontario PPC candidates found 25 made posts about taking part in the protests, which have drawn the ire of hospital officials and politicians. Torstar’s review shows the candidates are helping to fuel the protests, which have at times turned violent. After one in London, a now-expelled PPC riding president was criminally charged for allegedly throwing gravel at Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, and another in Cambridge featured calls for his execution. Candidates’ attendance also helps legitimize the conspiratorial beliefs of some of the protesters and entrench them into Canadian political culture, said Alison Meek, a historian at King’s University College, at the University of Western Ontario. “We ignore it at our peril,” said Meek, who studies the rise and evolution of conspiracy theories and political extremism. “If people think with this election that this is all just going to go away, history has shown that, no, it won’t. And we need to be vigilant. We need to be aware.” When Torstar reached out to PPC leader Maxime Bernier regarding his candidates’ presence at the protests, a senior party spokesperson replied: “Get lost, f—ing idiot.” The PPC’s support nationwide reached 7.3 per cent as of Thursday, eclipsing both the Green party and the Bloc Québécois, according to Vox Pop Labs polling for the Star. That could put the party within reach of claiming at least one seat in the House of Commons. At a protest in Burlington, with the Joseph Brant Hospital visible in the background, PPC candidate Michael Bator used the event to galvanize support for his campaign. “We’re going to go purple but we gotta get the word out,” he said in a video recording, posted online Sept. 3. “I need troops to help me.” The tone of the protests, which commonly feature vulgar “f— Trudeau” flags, is echoed in the social media posts by Bernier, who has labelled Trudeau a “fascist psychopath” on Twitter. In addition to the candidates who have attended protests in Ontario, more than a dozen others have promoted the events on their social media channels, urging followers to take part. More than half of all Ontario PPC candidates have shared vaccine disinformation and opposition to vaccine mandates and passports. Torstar also confirmed PPC candidates in other provinces, including B.C., Alberta and Quebec, participated in protests. Like Bator, many candidates post photos and videos of protests on their social media accounts. Anthony Zambito of the Dufferin-Caledon riding posted a live Instagram video of an anti-vaccine protest outside a Toronto restaurant, featuring a woman holding a sign that compared vaccine mandates to the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany, complete with a yellow Star of David patch. Chelsea Hillier, daughter of independent MPP Randy Hillier and candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London, tweeted a photo of herself at a hospital protest holding her clenched fist in the air. “We are NEVER GOING TO STOP standing up for our freedoms. I promise my constituents I will resist, at all costs, the authoritarian mandates,” she wrote. Meanwhile, Windsor-Tecumseh candidate Victor Green has turned his presence at a hospital protest into a promotional video for his campaign modelled after a television news segment. The Star reached out to every Ontario PPC candidate that attended protests. Most of those requests went unanswered. Three declined to answer questions. “When our current government provides the scientific data that warrants COVID-19 a pandemic, I would be more than willing to speak with you,” wrote Corrado Brancato, the PPC candidate for Barrie-Innisfil. London-West candidate Mike McMullen — who attended two hospital protests in London — rejected any notion the events were negative or divisive. “There was several thousand people outside of the (London Health Sciences Centre) hospital. So I attended that, it’s in my riding, to support the people there and what they believe because nobody’s speaking for them,” McMullen said in an interview. “The idea of a politician is to bring people together on both sides of the argument and stop the division.” McMullen said he opposed any kind of political violence, but wou