CFL fans have waited a long time to get back in football stadiums across the country and Winnipeg police made a move on Thursday to make sure nothing will stand in the way of that happening.
Officers arrested controversial anti-masker Patrick Allard after the Major Crimes Unit was alerted to a local anti-vaccination demonstration being organized on popular social media platforms. The alleged protest was set to congregate and block all of the roads entering IG Field at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ season opener on August 5, 2021.
Allard proposed the idea on his public Facebook page on July 20: “There’s only two roads into the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ stadium. I think we can block both with a rather small amount of people on August 5th ahead of their game.” The post has been commented on 291 times as of publishing, with Allard actively encouraging commenters to participate in acts of protest.
A well-known figure in the province’s anti-mask and anti-lockdown movement, Allard was previously arrested on May 28 for attending two large public gatherings in Winnipeg that violated Manitoba’s public health orders. The 39-year-old was bound by a court order stemming from those charges that prohibits the promotion and organization of gatherings contrary to any order made under the Public Health Act.
Allard faces charges for failing to comply with a condition of release. The allegations have not yet been proven in a court of law.
The Blue Bombers were recently granted provincial approval to host a capacity crowd for the CFL season-opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on August 5. However, only fully-vaccinated fans will be allowed to attend the game in person and proof of immunization is required for the entry of any person age 12 or above.
That decision by the Bombers and the Manitoba government has been controversial in anti-vaccine circles, but was met with praise from prominent CFL voices. It now appears the game could be a flashpoint for protest, with immunized fans hoping that police can keep roadways clear enough for them to finally enjoy some live football.