British Columbia

Anti-mask protesters cause disturbance and verbally abuse passengers on B.C. ferry

BC Ferries says it has banned a dozen people from sailing on Saturday after a group of anti-mask protesters caused a disturbance and verbally abused other passengers.

BC Ferries says it has banned 12 people from sailing for at least the rest of the day Saturday

Police say anti-mask protesters on board the Queen of Oak Bay were being verbally aggressive with people wearing masks. (Kam Abbott/Flickr)

BC Ferries has banned a dozen anti-mask protesters from sailing for the day after they caused a disturbance and verbally abused other passengers Saturday morning.   

The disturbance happened on the 8:30 a.m. PT sailing from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay, according to the corporation.

"BC Ferries has a mandatory mask policy," said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.  "We don't tolerate this type of behaviour."

The group was believed to be travelling to the B.C. Freedom Mega Rally 2020 event, which is being held Saturday and Sunday at the Vancouver Art Gallery. 

Marshall says the corporation called West Vancouver police, who met the ship at the Horseshoe Bay terminal. 

West Vancouver police waited for the anti-mask protesters as they disembarked the vessel at the Horseshoe Bay terminal. (Peter Mieras)

Corporal Neil Schafer says the initial report from BC Ferries indicated there were 12 anti-mask protesters, but when officers arrived they said the group was about 50 people.

Schafer says multiple officers responded to the group when they disembarked from the ferry, but Schafer says by then things had calmed down. 

"Our officers had a couple interactions with a few of the protesters. Again nothing much of note, and really had de-escalated into a non-incident," said Schafer.

No arrests

"There were no arrests. There was nothing violent, no weapons from the protesters and our officers just stood by and kept the peace."

Schafer says the participants in the disturbance were permitted to continue on their way.

BC Ferries said they banned approximately 12 of the participants for at least the rest of today. It also said the ban could be extended.

The Queen of Oak Bay was delayed about 45 minutes as a result of the incident. 

According to the Facebook page for the B.C. Freedom Mega Rally, the group is opposed to censorship, lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, social distancing and contact tracing, among other things.