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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Editorial: Debate, sure. Threats, never

A year into what might someday be known as the “COVID Era” everyone wishes some of our precious personal freedoms were not still being curtailed.

And if you operate a small business that is struggling to survive, you know that the sooner you can reopen, the better your prospects will be.

The Lake Report is a small business, too, and perhaps somewhat uniquely, we rely on the success of other small businesses – our loyal and dedicated advertisers – to survive.

So, over the past 12 months, we have known your pain, through the stories you have shared with us and our readers, and we have felt that pain, too, as our own business has been walloped by the pandemic.

So, we understand what many businesses are enduring. We have lived it.

What is more difficult to comprehend and accept is the anger and vitriol some in the wider Niagara Region community have directed at the acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji. He recommended the province keep Niagara in the grey-lockdown category when restrictions were eased this week.

The province agreed – and last week Hirji became the target of some nasty online threats.

He somehow found the grace to rise above the viciousness, directed at him essentially for doing what he is supposed to do – looking after the health interests of the community at large.

Those threats have prompted an investigation by Niagara Regional Police. We hope that decision will get the attention of those frustrated keyboard warriors who like to go off the deep end with little care about the consequences – and, yes, NOTL has its share.

Freedom of expression is enshrined in our Charter of Rights (not free speech, that's an Americanism), but even this right has limits. When words turn to hate or threats or defamation, there can be repercussions. By all means, let's have debates and adult conversations, agree to disagree. But stop the reprehensible behaviour.

No one wants to be in lockdown and no one wants to see a business suffer after people worked hard, often for years, to make it a success.

However, as Canadians, let's remember, we really are in this together. And we might be facing a third or even fourth COVID wave in the weeks to come.

Despite many hiccups, we have made it this far by pulling in the same direction, but there remain more hurdles down the road.

There is more strength in unity than there is in division.

Tough as it can be, let's all stick together.

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