Josh Bigger, in his social media alter-ego of “Mr. Freedom,” hosted a gathering promoting “peace, love, and unity” at the public park closest to the home of Niagara’s Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, last Friday afternoon, which was attended by about two dozen supporters, some of which wore Canadian flags as capes.
Despite most pandemic restrictions having now been lifted by the province, Bigger, a roofing contractor, had some harsh words for Hirji, who he identifies as being responsible for undue Covid-related hardship in the region. Bigger announced in an Instagram video that he had five children, and stood against “forced” vaccinations of youth.
There was a clear presence of the Niagara Regional Police at the event, and the Town of Pelham (which had posted an online caution about the “demonstration”) also had a bylaw officer on site to monitor the gathering. Apart from the bylaw officer, the Voice did not recognize any local faces. Bigger’s social media audience includes many Americans, who posted their regrets on Facebook at missing the gathering.
Bigger posted a video on his Facebook page from the scene in which he sporadically bellowed “Freedom!” while engaging with other attendees.
In its statement, the Town said it “recognizes and respects the Charter-protected right to free speech, and requests that the demonstrators be respectful towards Town property to ensure that public spaces remain undamaged and available for all to enjoy.” It appeared that the celebrants abided by this civic directive.