Category Archives: Steinbach

Invasion of Idiots comes to Steinbach




Just when you think there’s no more room for ignorance, more of it comes sloshing into Steinbach. For the second time Steinbach was the scene of a protest of Manitoba’s health restrictions imposed by government officials trying to stem the tide of Covid-19.  Both protests were led by Sheena Friesen who called on those in attendance including me, to make our voices heard protesting the limits on our freedoms. I felt I had to see what was going on in Steinbach so I grabbed my camera and drove to our City Hall.  Needless to say, I was one of the very few people there wearing a mask. I stood out and was proud to do so.


Friesen is a chapter leader of an organization called Vaccine Choice for Canada. She urged us to ditch our fear and live life to the fullest. “Don’t acquiesce; don’t let them push you around,” she said. In fact, she assured us, “I will live under a bridge with my family like a troll if necessary.” She thanked God for bringing her to this community of protesters. There were about 100 protesters I estimated. Not a huge number, but Steinbach is much less vaccinated than most of Manitoba. The last figures I have seen showed Steinbach had vaccination rates of about 60% compared to more than 70% for the province.  The Rural Municipality of Hanover which surrounds our town has even lower rates of vaccine acceptance.  Vaccine resistance is real in Steinbach, as it is in Winkler and its surrounding rural municipality. They have the lowest rates of vaccine uptake in the province.  Does anyone think it is a coincidence that these regions are heavily populated with Mennonites and other conservative Christian groups and also strongly support conservative political candidates?   One of the speakers claimed “my Jesus is a rebel.” Funny I never thought of Jesus as someone who would selfishly put his “rights” above the needs of vulnerable people to personal safety. None of the speakers expressed any concern for the 30,000 people in Manitoba who have had to put aside surgeries and other important medical procedure because of the fears that Manitoba’s hospitals will be overwhelmed by unvaccinated people who contract Covid-19. These people care only for themselves and their “rights and freedoms.”

The grim reaper was in attendance. In fact he pointed at me and I pointed back. What did he mean? What did I mean? Is it wise to tick off the grim reaper?

Frankly, my overall impression of the speakers in attendance  is that they were selfish and stupid. That is a mighty powerful toxic cocktail. I really hate to put it that way, but their speeches were ill thought out and frankly not very smart. I was dismayed by the quality of the speakers. One said to the audience don’t worry if your children are not allowed in school for not wearing masks, “You can home school them.”  Have children home schooled by these ignorant people is a thought that is enough to make one shudder.


They think wearing a mask is a great violation of their freedom, immensely more important than the right to life and health of others around them.  One speaker, a very young man who “owned a corporation” said before the restrictions his business made a profit of $10,000 per day!  Last week after new restrictions came into effect reduced his daily profit to $400. A truly astonishing reduction. Unbelievable actually. But all he cared about was his loss of profit. He did not mention the people who got sick or were missing life saving surgery as a result of the unvaccinated.

More protesters who were not very friendly to facts.


In my opinion the speakers and those who loudly supported them  exemplified what Italian writer Umberto Eco referred to as “an invasion of idiots.” This is what he wrote:

“Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. Then they were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots.” (Trans. T. Bolin).


If this is the best of vaccine resistance its hard to believe it can be so dangerously effective. But is!

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.