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Demonstration in Orillia planned to protest provincial government

May Day participants will walk backward Wednesday in 'symbolic' gesture
2018-09-17 charter protest Orillia 1
Members of Orillia for Democracy are shown during a protest last year outside Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop's office. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters file photo

Concerned local citizens are getting ready to issue a mayday call on May Day.

Orillia for Democracy, a group that formed shortly after Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government was elected, is organizing the May Day Procession and Forum, which will take place Wednesday.

Demonstrators will meet at 1 p.m. near the Island Princess. They will then walk backward up Mississaga Street until they reach the Orillia Public Library.

“It’s symbolic of our general feeling that (the government’s policies) are a backward step in our province,” said organizer Cassandra Witteman.

A number of protests against the government have taken place locally, but they’ve typically been in response to specific issues, such as changes to education funding and curriculum. Wednesday’s demonstration is in response to a variety of moves by the province that some Orillians see as troublesome, including its plans for health care and the environment.

“It almost seems like they’re punishing the more vulnerable sectors of society,” Witteman said.

The local march, she said, is “in solidarity” with those taking part in the so-called general strike for International Workers’ Day.

When the demonstrators reach the library, there will be an open discussion, during which “people can voice their concerns and ideas,” Witteman said.

“The hope is that this is not a partisan event. We’re just saying we’re not sure this is what’s going to be best for our society,” she said.

Anyone is invited to take part, and Witteman said the group will need some “spotters” to guide them as they walk backward along the main street.

Find out more on the group’s Facebook event page.