- Hub staff

As we reported on Sunday, some protesters came prepared for Premier Doug Ford's “surprise” visit to that morning's Wiarton Willie prediction of an early spring.

President of the Grey-Bruce Labour Council Kevin Smith says Mayor Janice Jackson tried to warn him off saying “You people need to leave, you can’t be here with signs; this is a community event and you might get beat up and I don’t want to see that.”

Jackson, the Mayor of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula which includes Wiarton, says she has “no recollection of saying that at all.”

In an email response to our enquiry about the incident, Jackson said “We asked the teachers' union several times to not use our community celebration as a forum for their political protest. Our first request was at least a month in advance when they asked for a booth at the event.

“The protesters were incredibly rude to our staff and many people in the crowd were angry when they raised their banners.
I asked them to please respect Wiarton and our annual celebration.”

Smith was attending the event with representatives from education unions, including educators in Grey-Bruce and their supporters.

“I wondered why the Doug Ford security detail was calm as the educators showed their signs and flags. I guess they felt they could stand down as there was no obvious threat to anyone including Doug Ford. However, the mayor and the town clerk [who reportedly called the signs “offensive”] clearly saw things differently and felt the need to handle the security on their own," he said in a media release.

Premier Ford had no trouble talking politics, taking the opportunity to tell a group of reporters covering the Wiarton festival that he believes the ongoing labour action in Ontario's schools is  “all about lining the pockets of the unions ... Not the teachers, but the unions.”

Smith said, “The Grey Bruce Labour Council knows the community members of Wiarton to be welcoming and not to deny people their voice. The Labour Council has been the voice of working people in our region for over 60 years and we will continue to be heard along with our affiliate unions.”


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