Nova Scotia

Hundreds gather at vaccine-mandate rallies in Halifax

A protest in support of the convoy demonstrating in Ottawa against COVID-19 vaccine mandates is happening in downtown Halifax on Saturday, along with a counter-protest.

Protests have moved to Grand Parade in downtown Halifax

Vaccine-mandate protesters are shown at Grand Parade in Halifax on Saturday. (Haley Ryan/CBC)

A protest in support of the convoy demonstrating in Ottawa against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and public health measures happened in downtown Halifax on Saturday, along with a counter-protest.

Between 200 and 300 protesters gathered at Grand Parade. Most are vaccine-mandate protesters while some are counter-protesters supporting public health measures and health-care workers.

Many of the vaccine-mandate protesters were unmasked and are waving Canada and Nova Scotia flags, or were wearing red and white clothes as they play music over speakers in the square.

Car horns honking in support could be heard throughout the downtown core of the city. 

Halifax Regional Police officers were stationed around Grand Parade but were not engaging with protesters. Officers were directing long lines of traffic on Barrington Street, where vehicles are moving slowly. 

A counter-protester wears a mask and holds a sign supporting health-care workers on Saturday afternoon at Grand Parade. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

In an email statement Saturday evening, after the protest had ended, police said they were focusing their efforts on keeping traffic moving and monitoring the people participating in the protest "with a focus on public safety."

Earlier on Saturday, more than 50 counter-protesters gathered at the Peace and Friendship Park in downtown Halifax. They stood at the base of the former Edward Cornwallis statue, many wearing masks and carrying signs that include messages such as "Putting others in danger is not freedom. Get [vaxxed]" and "Cowards protest with their cars."

Elsewhere in the park, a crowd of vaccine-mandate protesters gathered. Some had signs with messages such as "Stop COVID mandates now" and "Choose freedom."

Vaccine-mandate protesters also lined Barrington beside the Peace and Friendship Park to wave and cheer on lines of honking cars and trucks.

Around 3 p.m. AT, the vaccine-mandate protesters began leaving the park and started walking down Barrington toward Grand Parade.

This marks the second straight weekend there's been a protest in Halifax supporting the convoy in Ottawa.

Protesters against vaccine mandates gather on Saturday in downtown Halifax at the Peace and Friendship Park. In the distance are counter-protesters. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

On Friday, Nova Scotia's health authority said it was working with its partners at Emergency Health Services, the RCMP and local police to reduce the chance access to its facilities would be disrupted.