Public health officials on both sides of the border have declared that wearing masks in public indoor spaces will save lives.
So far, nearly 12,000 Canadians have died of COVID-19. There have been more than 364,000 positive test results for the novel coronavirus.
But antimask activists are claiming that being forced to wear face coverings inside malls and other privately owned sites violates their human rights.
And two B.C. members of this movement are recommending actions that could conceivably lead to public confrontations.
Ryan Kulbaba is mobilizing people to walk into stores without their faces covered.
His goal is to "educate" retail workers, their managers, and police about human rights rather than comply with public-health orders.
In a November 22 speech at an antimask rally in Vancouver, Kulbaba urged hundreds of attendees to videotape their interactions with store managers and distribute them over social media.
"I am working with organizers across Canada in every province from the west to the east for an initiative to counter these policies that storm makers are putting on us for people who are violating our human rights," he said.
These types of retail protests have already occurred in the U.S., where COVID-19 is exerting a tremendous toll.
As of this writing, there have been more than 272,000 deaths in America from the disease.
Shoppers advised to carry leaflets
According to Kulbaba, leaflets will be printed carrying each province's human-rights code.
"When you go shopping, in a group, always have those leaflets ready," he said.
The B.C. Human Rights Code governs conduct in private-sector workplaces whereas the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to public property and public institutions.
Kulbaba insisted at last week's rally that a recent B.C. public heath order mandating masks in indoor public spaces violates the code.
"If they say you're trespassing, no you're not," he claimed. "They cannot charge you for trespassing because you are a paying customer."
On November 27, Air Canada refused to let Kulbaba board a flight to Toronto to attend an antimask rally.
Kulbaba prevented from flying
In a subsequent Facebook post, Kulbaba said that an airline official had seen footage of him conducting antimask activities on a B.C. ferry.
This staffer expressed concerns that Kulbaba was going to harass masked passengers on the plane.
Kulbaba, however, insisted on Facebook that he was prepared to comply with rules regarding wearing masks on air carriers.
Today, Kulbaba will share this story at another weekly antimask demonstration in Vancouver.
One activist urges filming hospitals
Vancouver antimasker Alicia Johnson recently wrote a post on Facebook calling on people to videotape what's taking place at B.C. hospitals.
"ITS TIME PATRIOTS!! FILM YOUR HOSPITAL!! TIME TO SHOW THE ASLEEP THE TRUTH - LIVE!! UPLOAD & SEND ME ALL FOOTAGE FOR SUPREME COURT!! SHARE THIS POST!!" Johnson declared in capital letters.
This isn't a first for antimaskers. They did this in the spring at 15 hospitals and COVID-19 testing centres in Metro Vancouver.
YouTube removed these videos, which can still be found on the Internet.
One of those doing the videotaping was flat earther and yogi Mak Parhar, On November 5, New Westminster police announced that he's been charged with three counts of violating the Quarantine Act.
The B.C. government has authorized fines of $230 on people who violate public health orders, including the requirement to wear masks in public indoor spaces.
On a recent trip to Brentwood Mall in Burnaby, a Straight staffer observed three different men violating this order within the first three minutes of being inside the building.
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has referred to antimaskers, including Parhar, as "idiots".
“They do not have the right to endanger other people’s health,” Farnworth recently said. “It’s time for this small minority to shut up, grow up, and mask up.”
Right wingers visit health officer's home
When Kulbaba mentioned the names of Farnworth and the provincial health officer, Henry, at last week's rally, the crowd began jeering. Henry has acknowledged that her staff have been harassed and that her life has been threatened.
Meanwhile in Toronto, two antimaskers tried to visit the home of the city's medical health officer, Dr. Eileen de Villa, in an attempt to conduct an "interview".
Facebook video shows Ed Jamnisek of Northern Guard and Pat King of Yellow Vests Canada driving around her neighbourhood. King provides a running commentary while this is occurring.
It came after the owner of Adamson Barbecue in Etobicoke was arrested and charged for continuing to serve customers in violation of a lockdown.
King claimed that the pair were "just independent journalists" and that they "weren't criminally harassing anybody".
Police ticketed one of them for not wearing a seatbelt.
The owner of Adamson Barbecue, Adam Skelly, is being lionized as a hero by right-wing media outlets like Northern Guard and Rebel Media. A GoFundMe page for Skelly has generated $264,572 as of this writing.
One of those defending Skelly is writer and former police officer Leo Knight.
He's a former chief operating officer of Paladin Security Group Ltd, which billed Vancouver Coastal Health more than $8.8 million in the last fiscal year to provide security services. Paladin guards have been on the job for many years at major hospitals.
Knight maintained in his videotaped commentary that he's spoken to "a number of Toronto police officers" who disagree with their department's position.
One of Knight's concerns is that large corporations like Walmart and Costco continue offering foodservices whereas smaller businesses, like Skelly's, have been shut down in Ontario.
On the other side of this issue is Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick, who wrote a scathing commentary claiming that Adamson's Barbecue supporters are showing "contempt for the rest of us".
Patients share their horror stories
Back in March, Chilliwack resident and COVID-19 patient Erin Leigh, 38, spoke to CBC News anchor Natasha Fatah about the difficulties of breathing and waves of coughing after she contracted the disease.
She urged viewers to follow the recommendations of medical experts.
"It's time to listen to what the top doctors are saying," Leigh said. "This virus is so unpredictable and it can hit hard and fast. And it can hit anyone of any age and any level of health.
"So I would beg that people please do listen to what the government is asking us to do and stop the spread because one person can infect so many people."
Another B.C. former, COVID-19 patient, North Vancouver doctor Greg Phillips, spent 105 days in hospital after contracting the virus.
He and his partner shared their recollections with CBC News reporter Briar Stewart in the video below.