The local constituency office of Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré has been closed since February 22, with a sign on the door indicating the Sturgeon Falls site is “closed indefinitely” and inviting residents to call a 1-800 number for service.
While the sign does not provide a reason for the sudden closure, a statement was issued by Serré suggesting that staff may have been inundated by complaints regarding the “Freedom Convoy” and the use of the Emergency Measures Act following weeks of angry protest in Ottawa that turned into an occupation of the capital city. Protesters were demanding an end to all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, with some organizers also calling on the government to step down if demands were not met.
“Political criticism is at an all-time high but please remember that constituency office staff are public servants who are working in a non-partisan capacity. They are not expected however to subject themselves to vulgar or aggressive behaviour. Individuals who insist on sharing views in a threatening, harassing, vulgar or aggressive in nature will not be tolerated. Please be kind, be patient and be courteous,” read Serré’s statement.
The move came just one day after a group called Let Life Live Ontario posted a photo of protestors in front of the Sturgeon Falls constituency office and invited people to join in further protests, including one planned that evening. “Marc Serré has turned his back on many Nickel Belt voters over the last 2 years endorsing his government’s restrictions of freedom,” charged the post, which asked Serré to vote against invoking the Emergencies Act. “I’ll be in front of Mr. Serre’s Sturgeon Falls office again tonight… It will be up to you Mr. Serre, whether it is a celebration of you making the right choice, and voting down the Emergency Act in parliament today, or whether it will be yet another protest…”
The Let Life Live Ontario page shows video of local farmer Dave Lewington, a strong critic against vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions. The Lavigne resident vehemently opposed the use of the Emergencies Act to break up what he called a peaceful protest, and criticized Serré for not responding to his calls and turning off comments on some of his social media posts to silence dissent.
Serré voted along with his party to invoke the Act, giving the government additional powers to respond to the Ottawa occupation and border blockades. The decision was debated at length, with many supporters and detractors. The use of the Act has since been ended by the government, who had promised to use it only as long as it deemed necessary.
On Serré’s Facebook page, criticism is rampant and harsh, with many saying he has not responded to their complaints and has closed his office to avoid hearing their opinions.