Disclaimer: This letter is posted as it was received; the views and opinions expressed within this letter belong to the student and are not meant to represent the views of Algoma University or the Algoma University Student Union.
Letter by Jason Johns
Questions for Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the conservative government regarding discrimination and persecution of Ontarians.
Mr. Ford, I am questioning why have you allowed NHL players to continue to play NHL games in Ontario during the Lockdown and not allowed the public the same liberty? Although loved by many Canadians, hockey is not an essential service. So, what scientific evidence do you have to validate why playing hockey would be safe for NHL players who play a contact sport, where there are many people involved on and off the ice, who must travel to arenas, and are just as susceptible to Covid as others? Is not their safety just as important as ours?
Does your scientific evidence for allowing these games to continue reveal an acceptable risk that outweighs, for example, the mental health benefits of people of religious faith  who want to go to church, or visit with loved ones? Because I would like to see the evidence.
If your decision to allow players to congregate at the arena [their church] and fill bench’s with team players [their pews] and make contact with one another on the ice [a communal practice] isn’t based on scientific evidence, then we might think that there are other reasons for allowing these games to continue while churches, for example, cannot. Or is your decision, as I am suspecting, not driven by science? I am very curious, what motivated your decision to allow this non-essential service to continue while other services Ontarians see as essential are not?
Without a valid scientific reason for your decision, it would appear a double standard and discriminatory. While some Ontarians have already received fines and the rest of us, under threat of being fined, you have allowed this privileged group of individuals, who play in the NHL, to enjoy freedoms we do not. It is problematic and demands an answer. I’m not turning a blind eye to all the information you have given us concerning the dangers of Covid. This is simply about answering the question, why doesn’t everyone have to, as you say, “follow the protocols?”
Let me be very clear, I am not advocating that there be no NHL games, but that churches, and people who want to visit loved ones, have the same liberty, you extended to the NHL franchise.
I would hate to think that you discriminated against a group of Ontarians who go to church and further allow them to be persecuted under the Reopening Act, while giving NHL players a free pass to congregate. That would be religious persecution. If true, I will encourage people of religious faith to think differently about voting for you again.
Finally, if there is no scientific evidence, and your decision was based on bias personal views, then your government has abused its power, and we need the courts to step in and establish better parameters for elected officials, who have access to the use of the emergency management and civil protections act (EMCPA).
Please extend the same liberty to local churches, essential services for Ontarians, as you have to the NHL franchise.
Awaiting your response.
1 "NHL Revises Virus Protocols with 40 Players on COVID-19 List," CBC.
2 Cheryl P. Weinstock, "How Religion Can Improve on Your Mental Health," AARP.
3 "Woodbine CEO Questions Ontario's Decision to Allow NHL Games Amidst Lockdown | CBC Sports," CBC. 4 "Six Elders and Church Charged for Meeting: Max Total Penalty is $10.8 Million Plus Jail Time," Trinity Bible Chapel.
5 Kevin Nielsen, "Doug Ford Issues Warning to Woolwich Church: ‘there Will Be Consequences’," Global News. 6 Justin Zadorsky, "‘I Don’t Think We Have to Go That Extreme’: Ford Not in Favour of Shutting Down Church of God,".
7 Katherine Hill, "Pastor, Other Elders Charged for Services at Trinity Bible Chapel," CTV News.
Hill, Katherine. "Pastor, Other Elders Charged for Services at Trinity Bible Chapel." Kitchener. Last modified January 28, 2021. https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/pastor-other elders-charged-for-services-at-trinity-bible-chapel 1.5284550#.YB6yLXLqqWw.mailto.
"NHL COVID-19 Case Tracker: Updated List of Players to Miss Games During 2021 Season." Sporting News - NFL | NBA | MLB | NCAA | NASCAR | UFC | Boxing. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.sportingnews.com/ca/nhl/news/nhl-covid 19-cases-2021-player-list/c7dlvqxmejwu1ooydrunvg2nu.
"NHL Revises Virus Protocols with 40 Players on COVID-19 List." CBC. Last modified February 4, 2021. https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/nhl-revises-virus-protocols covid-19-list-1.5900922.
Nielsen, Kevin. "Doug Ford Issues Warning to Woolwich Church: ‘there Will Be Consequences’." Global News. Last modified January 25, 2021.
"Six Elders and Church Charged for Meeting: Max Total Penalty is $10.8 Million Plus Jail Time." Trinity Bible Chapel. Last modified January 8, 2021.
Weinstock, Cheryl P. "How Religion Can Improve on Your Mental Health." AARP. Last modified September 9, 2019. https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info 2019/religion-and-mental-health.html.
"Woodbine CEO Questions Ontario's Decision to Allow NHL Games Amidst Lockdown | CBC Sports." CBC. Last modified January 8, 2021. https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/nhl-covid-protocol-2020-21-season-1.5866741.
Zadorsky, Justin. "‘I Don’t Think We Have to Go That Extreme’: Ford Not in Favour of Shutting Down Church of God." London. Last modified January 28, 2021. https://london.ctvnews.ca/i-don-t-think-we-have-to-go-that-extreme-ford-not-in favour-of-shutting-down-church-of-god-1.5286088.