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Anti-lockdown advocates hosted a Santa Claus-themed protest parade in Toronto Sunday afternoon.
According to brochures for the protest, the demonstration began in the morning with an outdoor church service followed by a Christmas toy drive and meet-and-greet with a Santa Claus. The parade began at noon, with demonstrators marching from Dundas Square north along Yonge Street until St. Clair Avenue.
Floats and vehicles filled with both children and adults donning Christmas attire could be seen travelling up Yonge Street over the course of the early afternoon.
Police had asked the public not to attend the protest.
Despite warning people not to attend, police were still present at the protest. "As demonstration is a right guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, officers attend to maintain public safety which includes the safe movement of traffic for both vehicles and pedestrians," a representative from the Toronto Police BlogTO reported last month.
The protest was organized by The Line Canada and Mothers Against Distancing.
The Line Canada is a self-described "civil liberties group resisting tyranny and oppression" which has been present at a variety of protests opposing coronavirus-related lockdown orders across the country. Despite reports to the contrary from various media outlets, The Line Canada says that they "are NOT anti mask. We have many followers in our movement that wear a mask."
Mothers Against Distancing is an organization that questions the effects of lockdown orders on the wellbeing of children, who have suffered skyrocketing rates of mental distress since the beginning of the pandemic.
Mothers Against Distancing founder Chris Sky helped organize the protest and posted footage to his Twitter feed. In one tweet, he provocatively wrote "[any] second now [I'll] be in jail," with a video, presumably taken by himself, surrounding by police.
Other observers were less than pleased with the demonstration, however, with some social media users expressing their dismay with the actions of the protesters.
Opponents of the protests have largely expressed concern over the potential spread of coronavirus at such rallies and the ripple effect it could have on the people associated with the protesters.
Over 160,000 coronavirus cases have been recorded in Ontario since the start of the pandemic, a little over one percent of the province's population. As the death toll topped 4,000 last week, the Ontario government is expected to announce a province-wide lockdown to control the spread of the virus.