SHEPHERD: No, Bonnie Henry, the pandemic was never a time of “kindness”

A new documentary about BC provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry premiered in Victoria on Thursday evening as part of the Victoria Film Festival.

The film’s title?

“Our Time to be Kind.”

I gagged upon hearing the news. 

British Columbians will know that Henry’s signature phrase from 2020-2022 was “Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe.” That’s also what she titled her book. In the film, she is seen with a tote bag with the same phrase printed on it.

How can Henry purport that her brand is about “kindness,” when it was under her pandemic public health orders that the unvaccinated were banned from working out at the gym, attending university, visiting a museum, and dining at a restaurant with friends and family?

Actually, in B.C., healthcare workers without the COVID vaccine are still barred from returning to work, despite the understaffed and strained healthcare system. 

And I haven’t forgotten about the 12-year old boy with severe autism who was denied entry to an Indigo bookstore in Burnaby because he wasn’t able to put on a mask. A Paralympic swimmer born without hands, thus unable to affix a mask, was also turned away from the bookstore chain’s Vancouver location. How kind!

According to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, those who questioned masks were “irresponsible idiots” with “narcissistic, self-indulgent ways.” 

I remember attending my first anti-lockdown protest in the spring of 2020 with a massive parade of others who were concerned about the effects of school closures on children, as well as how peoples’ mental health will be affected if they lose their jobs and are denied human connection. 

Onlookers spat that we were “f***ing stupid.” It was all so… kind. 

Anyhow, I bought a ticket to see the new documentary film, “Our Time to Be Kind,” because I like to see these things for myself. 

And seeing as Henry herself would be at the premiere, which included a Q&A, I wanted to ask her what exactly was “kind” about her discriminatory rules.

The film itself was just as expected: Henry talked about how “kindness is a superpower” while also admitting she was taking away peoples’ liberties. She wept about how people really need to be able to gather during Christmastime, but she isn’t going to let them. To make it the whole package, the film also displayed an onscreen land acknowledgment and featured plenty of discussion about how B.C. is racist, colonialist and white supremacist. 

There were a couple standout moments, such as when journalist Rob Shaw of CHEK News, who was interviewed in the documentary, said that the news media interviewed too many scientific experts who called into question Henry’s orders during the pandemic. According to Shaw, the media should have simply broadcasted Henry’s advice without questioning it.

Speaking of Rob Shaw, he was also at the premiere, and posted on social media that protesters outside the venue were blocking moviegoers from entering the cinema. 

“These Covid whacko protesters can pound a big fat bag of sand,” he eloquently added.

“I had to run a gauntlet of them to get in. Disgusting people,” Global News reporter Keith Baldrey chimed in.

Rob Shaw’s claim that protesters were blocking the theatre is false.

A group of about 50 protesters were outside the venue, lined up in such a way that the cinema’s entry was completely unobstructed. The protesters taunted people as they entered, saying things such as “do you need a mask before you go in?” and “I bet you believe the vaccines are safe and effective, don’t you?”, but no one was prevented from entering or exiting the theatre.

One protester, Renee Fennell, attended the protest from Vancouver primarily due to BC’s “safe supply” program, which makes hydromorphone tablets available to drug addicts. Bonnie Henry recommended last week that pharmaceutical heroin and fentanyl be made available to the addicts as well.

“My main thing right now is the fentanyl for underage children,” Fennell told True North, pointing to evidence that shows government-supplied opioids have been found on the streets being resold to youth.

Bonnie Henry did ultimately make an appearance at the screening, but no audience questions were taken. (She remarked on stage that we’re not supposed to call lockdowns “lockdowns” anymore, they’re “restrictions.”)

Despite the non-violent nature of the protest outside, the film festival staff and moviegoers acted as if everyone’s lives were in danger.

“This is a volatile situation. Do not engage with the group outside. Verbal engagement is not going to get you anywhere tonight,” a police officer announced after the film was over. The police barked at the audience to remain seated as Bonnie Henry’s bodyguards escorted her out a secret exit.

One gentleman shouted in the crowd, asking the police officer if the protest outside could be deemed illegal, because their signs had messages such as “Bonnie Lied, People Died.”

The police officer said that, no, the protest outside was not legally actionable. 

Attending the film premiere was a bit like reliving the 2020-2022 time period: the loathing that the pro-mask/pro-lockdown/pro-vaccine rule-followers have for the public health order skeptics became palpable again. 

The pandemic was never a time of kindness and Bonnie Henry’s public health orders were not kind. 

British Columbians shouldn’t let Henry get away with claiming kindness as her legacy.

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