Active cases rose in the province Saturday, with 14,931 Albertans currently infected with the virus. Its the highest count in Canada.
Saturdays anti-mask protest in Calgary was led by a group called Walk for Freedom, which said on social media it was rallying to protect our Charter rights.
Supporters gather on the sidewalk during a large rally in Municipal Plaza in downtown Calgary on Saturday, November 28, 2020. About 1000 participants, from a few different groups were opposed to a number of things-the federal, provincial and civic governments, anti-masking, and end the lockdown. The group eventually marched up and down Stephen Ave Mall.Jim Wells/Postmedia
On Friday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called anti-mask rallies illegal due to provincial limits on outdoor gatherings.
New provincial rules introduced Tuesday restrict outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, and many municipalities including Calgary have bylaws making the use of face coverings mandatory in many settings, though the citys bylaw does not require mask use outdoors.
Of course, police will always use their discretion in cases like this. They dont want the enforcement to cause more danger for people, Nenshi said. Whether you agree or disagree, it is your right to assemble peacefully, however right now the law says you can only assemble in a group of 10.
A supporter carries a sign during a large rally in Municipal Plaza in downtown Calgary on Saturday, November 28, 2020.Jim Wells/Postmedia
The same day, Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said the province expected enforcement on COVID-19 public-health orders to ramp up, granting 700 additional peace officers across the province the ability to issue fines starting at $1,000 for egregious violations.
When asked whether he expected police to clamp down on anti-mask rallies like the one in Calgary Saturday, Madu acknowledged the independence of police forces but said accountability was needed.
As minister of justice, my expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable, Madu said.
However, no enforcement took place at the rally, according to Shawn Rupchan with the Calgary Police Service.
I dont think there was any enforcement at the rally itself, but that doesnt mean there wont be something on follow-up, Rupchan said.
Rupchan said the police service was working on a plan for future protests that violate COVID-19 rules.
Twitter: @jasonfherring