Category Archives: Steinbach

Rebellion Returns to Steinbach




The group known as Hugs not Masks together with their local ally the Church of God Restoration had a second rally in Steinbach today. This time I was determined not to miss it.

Pandemics make stranger bedfellows. Sharon recited the lyrics to John Lennon’s classic, Imagine. Hardly a regular hymn from the church services I would expect.  Remember this is the song that suggests the world would be better if there were no religion or country to kill or die for. I would hardly think the members of the Church of God Restoration would want to imagine people living without religion, yet they seemed to be smiling fondly. Perhaps they did not understand the song.



There were about 50 to 100 people there and most were from the church or invited speakers.


This was one of the rare people who wore a mask at the rally. Most people did not wear masks or maintain social distances. I did. Frankly, I did not want to be identified with the group.

The proceedings started with an opening prayer by Pastor Tobias Tissen that was as much a political statement as a prayer.



Next was the speaker who identified only as Sharon. Sharon had a Canadian flag wrapped around her shoulder. I guess she wanted to make Canada Great Again. She gave a speech that I would call rambling. Or perhaps it was meandering. In my opinion her speech did go beyond gibberish but only barely. She asked if we knew that Canada was a corporation not a country?  She did not explain on what basis or why that was significant. She also asked us if we had ever looked at our birth certificates? “It shows you are the property of someone else,” she boldly asserted.

Jordan Ross reported this way about a local rebel:

“Steinbach resident Antonio du Rocher listened to  speeches while holding a yellow sign reading: “Gov’t lies are the real threat.”

Governments and health experts are “oppressing people, oppressing the truth” by refusing to admit when they’ve been wrong. About Covid-19 du Rocher said. He cited U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute  of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who advised against buying masks early in the pandemic.

“Doctors, scientists have debunked this for months now and they refuse to say ‘Hey, you know what we were wrong,” Du Rocher said.

He called the Covid-19 vaccine “genocide” and an attempt by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to instigate mass depopulation.” Du Rocher wasn’t worried about receiving a fine for attending the rally.

“They can’t fine me. They can’t. I don’t consent. I know the law.”




I found some of the signs interesting:

“Faith is essential”

“Freedom is essential”

“The media is the virus”

“Lockdown is out of control”

“Love over fear”

“Freedom over Tyranny”

“No study has confirmed masks work”

“We are all essential”

“Stop Agenda 2030”


The last one is right out of the conspiracy theories on the internet. This is based on very laudable goals of the United Nations but an instrument of Satan according to many of the right-wing conspiracy theorists. According to The southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-hate group in the US, this conspiracy theory claims that there is “a secret plot to impose a totalitarian world government, a nefarious effort to crush freedom in the name of environmentalism.”

I mention this last one just to make sure everyone realizes we have our crazies in Steinbach too. As if anyone ever doubted that.


Steinbach hits International News

Steinbach does not often hit the national or international news, and when it does it usually is at least partly about religion. We on occasion have been made to look ridiculous, not entirely without justification,  for actions taken based on the religious views of a majority of the community. The news has not always been negative. I remember when Steinbach hit the national news for having the most generous charitable donors in the country. That is pretty favourable news.

I have been a subscriber to the Guardian Weekly since 1982. It is a newspaper that is read around the world and widely admired for the quality of its journalism. Then it was called the Manchester Guardian. I assure you that since that time Steinbach has never been on the Guardian’s radar. They might have mentioned the name Steinbach (I can’t remember) when Steinbach’s most famous son was interviewed by the press around the world as a result of a journalist, Murray Hiebert, who I knew in passing, and who was the Malaysian bureau chief for Far Eastern Economic Review, and was jailed after serving one month for contempt of court. Basically, he was jailed for writing a book critical of the Malaysian legal system. I believe he was the first reporter in the Commonwealth that was jailed for his writing since the Second World War. I don’t know if the Guardian covered the story but they likely did because he was interviewed by media around the world. Briefly he was probably the most famous person ever to have come out of Steinbach. The Guardian might have mentioned Steinbach when it wrote about our most famous daughter—Miriam Toews. They have written about her on more than one occasion, and she is certainly worthy of international attention and has justifiably received much of it.

And now Steinbach hit international news again and this time for something that happened in our little city. Imagine my surprise when I read about this in the Guardian. The Guardian reported on the dissenting efforts of the Church of God Restoration. The Guardian juxtaposed their rebellion with the seriousness of the pandemic, particularly in Steinbach. Here is what Leyland Cecco reported in the Guardian Weekly:


“We’ve certainly been more aggressive with masks than the United States,” said Dr. Anand Kumar an infectious disease and intensive care physician. His province of Manitoba has the highest  active case rate in the country. 634 infections per 100,000 residents—seven times the higher than neighbouring Ontario. In Steinbach, the site of a recent anti-mask protest, officials have logged  10-day positivity rates of 40%.”


I was told that was the highest rate in North America at the time, yet our city was the site of an anti-mask rally. It was incongruous. Actually, it was worse than that. Dr. Kumar, an expert on the subject, was advocating, Manitoba’s restrictions be tightened, not loosened as the church wanted. He was worried about a health care overload that was already stressing our health care system. The dissidents included many members of the church, but many others as well. They  were primarily worried about their rights to congregate. The Guardian suggested that Manitoba would have done much worse had they followed American practices and ignorance about the disease and had Manitoba political leaders not refused to believe in conspiracy theories. As the Guardian said, that “probably averted a far more dire outcome.”

I wonder what will be the next reason that Steinbach attracts international attention? Maybe when Miriam Toews wins the Man Booker Prize.