Tuesday night’s Quesnel city council meeting was interrupted and briefly halted after people in the gallery refused to wear masks.
Mayor Bob Simpson put the Feb. 1 meeting into recess and cleared the gallery of spectators.
The controversy began during a presentation on a proposed standing wave in Quesnel when one of the people watching the meeting refused to put on a mask when asked by city manager Byron Johnson. The gallery member noted city council, do not wear masks during meetings, instead separated by plexiglass shields.
Council members are not legal employees of the city, so any employee rules do not apply to them, but Simpson noted council members must follow any vaccine rules meant for the public. The council chambers gallery is open to the public, regardless of vaccine status, with Simpson adding provincial public health rules apply.
The group yelled expletives at Simpson after he stopped the meeting, saying he and Justin Trudeau were controlled by the world economic forum.
“F***** coward,” one said after the meeting was halted.
“We’re not subjects,” another said.
The spectators, who did not identify themselves, also brought up volunteer firefighter vaccine mandates, and the fact the city as an employer mandates vaccines, but city councillors are not required to be vaccinated.
Quesnel Fire Chief Ron Richert reported to council in January all of the city’s volunteers were vaccinated. A Cariboo Regional District mandate has hurt hall membership across the region, especially in Kersley, where there are now only 11 members of the fire hall.
“I get that people are at the stage of frustration that people are beginning to act out, but my concern is they’re acting out in a disrespectful manner, that disrespects the democratic process,” Mayor Bob Simpson said after the meeting.
“None of them asked for a meeting with me prior to this, none of them asked if they could sit down and reason, none of them asked if they could sit down and reason about what was going on, and understand why we were doing what we were doing.”
Before leaving, the residents promised that a protest truck convoy which passed through Quesnel “was just the beginning.”
Residents also claimed there were 100,000 trucks currently in Ottawa, and millions of people protesting vaccine mandates and it was not being reported.
The meeting, where councillors discussed the city’s operating budget, continued without a public gallery.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated for clarity.
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