A planned rally by Freedomfighters’ Enough is Enough for Lac La Biche on Friday, was added to the council agenda in the County as an urgent matter this morning.
The rally is planned to take place on April 16 at the Jubilee parking lot which is municipal property. The rally will see roughly 100 to 200 people descend on the tiny hamlet.
Councillor Colin Cote brought the matter to the council’s attention before the start of the regular meeting on April 13 and asked elected officials to discuss the event.
“It’s been brought to my attention by the museum board and staff that there are some concerns about a rally being held on the County property,” Councillor Cote told Mayor Omer Moghrabi who was unaware about the planned event.
Cote wanted to know what measures the administration was taking, if any, to prepare for potential trouble.
“I cant see council getting involved in this,” Mayor Moghrabi said before the item was added to the agenda.
A motion was tabled by Councillor Cote to propose that community peace officers provide a presence at the rally.
“I am a firm believer in people’s rights to express themselves and gather peaceful protests, all of that I have no problem with that,” Councillor Cote said. “But we do have some infrastructure there. I would just like some presence to be sure that our property is protected. And that Alberta Health Services rules are being followed just to protect our people as well. There is a potential for an influx, we don’t know what’s going to be going on. We’ve seen some stuff. I just want to make sure we have a presence there to be proactive.”
Chris Clark, manager of Enforcement Services says that Municipal Peace Officers and administration are aware that a rally is taking place on Friday that speaks to people’s freedoms.
“I guess, that people feel that have been restricted, due to the provincial government and the response to COVID. So with that being said, we have known about the event for a few weeks, we have worked with the RCMP, as well as Alberta Health Services, to make sure that we know who the organizers are and any type of intelligence information, that kind of thing has been also collected by the RCMP in regards to this rally. The risk is low to our public,” Clark stated in the meeting.
The Alberta RCMP stated after Sunday’s rally at GraceLife Church that they will continue to act to preserve the peace and maintain public safety. The RCMP will use only the level of intervention necessary to ensure the safety of all citizens and to maintain peace, order, and security.
The RCMP said they will use necessary measures to protect the fundamental freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, to promote the safety of all citizens, to enforce laws, and to maintain peace and order. In turn, it must be recognized that while everyone has a right to peaceful freedom of expression; the general public, local residents, and businesses also have the right to a safe environment.
“People do have the right to protest and they are doing it on County Land, and we do realize that there is infrastructure,” Clark said. “Going forward with the rally is obviously not to impact or impede their ability and what the organizers are trying to do.”
Clark says that municipal officers would have a visible presence in the area in conjunction with the RCMP driving by and doing patrols around the area to make sure roadways aren’t impacted.
“We’re not going to be directly on foot at the rally, but in patrol vehicles, and obviously responding to complaints,” Clark said. “Or if we see issues like blocking a road or blocking a pathway or you know, limiting movement of vehicles, then obviously would end up dealing with that at the time, both with us, RCMP and the organizer.”
The council voted and carried the motion five to four to provide a visible presence.
The rally is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Lac La Biche.