One of the organizers of Canadian convoys protesting COVID-19 mandates is calling on his supporters to divert their attention from Ottawa to Victoria.

James Bauder, the founder of the Canada Unity group, said he was organizing a new convoy that would leave Calgary on March 19 and descend on the capital of British Columbia.

“BC is going to be a really big event. We’re looking at two, three, four months, however long it takes,” he said in a Facebook video.

While several provinces have lifted their passport and vaccination mask mandates, British Columbia has opted to keep those measures in place for the time being. This, combined with his NDP government, makes the province an important target, according to Bauder.

“The Minister of Health there has lost her marbles,” he said, apparently referring to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Bauder calls the Bear Hug BC convoy and says they’ll give the NDP a big hug until it “takes ownership” of what Bauder claims are harmful and illegal health measures. He made it clear that he didn’t just want the terms to end, he wanted to make sure they never came back.

He says drivers will demonstrate regularly in Victoria, but noted there will be no blockades, like in Ottawa.

Asked what measures, if any, the Victoria Police Service plans to implement and how seriously they are taking the potential incoming convoy, Const. Cam MacIntyre said he did not want to talk about preparations or potential operations. VicPD’s approach to any protest is to protect public safety and ensure people exercise their rights in a safe and legal manner, he said.

Mayor Lisa Helps referred most questions to VicPD, but said the city has no plans to change its noise bylaw beyond its March 3 decision to make violations ticketable on the spot.

Victoria MP Laurel Collins was more outspoken. In a tweet following Bauder’s announcement, she said, “We saw what you did in Ottawa. Our town doesn’t want you or your convoy here. Go home.”

The office of the Clerk of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly declined to comment, but said staff were aware and monitoring the situation.

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