Independent candidate brings frustration with government corruption, COVID restrictions to Parksville-Qualicum race

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A local restaurant owner is entering politics for the first time as an independent candidate in the Parksville-Qualicum riding. John St. John, owner of the British Bobby Restaurant in Parksville, said his frustration with government corruption is what brought him to the race. 

“They have no respect for the public whatsoever and to be very candid,” said St. John. “They rip the Canadian public off every single day to the tune of millions of dollars.”

He said he learned a lot about politicians from his time as a chauffeur in Ottawa.

“I’ve driven five Canadian prime ministers, not during their reign as prime minister, but before and afterwards,” said St. John.

He said he is frustrated with social distancing requirements, which have had a significant impact on his business.

“It’s destroyed us — we’re closing down in February. My summer is when I make my money and we don’t make a lot. It’s basically a family business,” said St. John.

He attended a rally against COVID-19 prevention measures in Vancouver several weeks ago and said he does not consider the virus dangerous. St. John claims the death rate is lower than seasonal influenza.

He said he believes masks cause people health problems and are ineffective at preventing viral transmission.

“We’re mammals — we need to breathe oxygen. They say, ‘you’re not wearing a mask, you’re risking my health.’ Well, number one — if masks work I’m not risking your health, I’m risking mine,” said St. John. 

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website states “wearing a mask can help protect others by containing your own droplets when talking, laughing, singing, coughing or sneezing.”

He claims businesses that mandate mask-wearing are violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and could “be sued for $35,000”. The charter protects freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression; freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association. St. John did not provide examples of fines or ongoing lawsuits.

“It’s discrimination, it’s like race or religion, if you don’t want to wear a mask that’s your civil right. They have no right to enforce it on the public,” said St. John. 

He said COVID-19 testing is useless because it detects fragmented coronavirus from years ago. 

St. John said he does consider himself left or right politically and he turned down an offer to run as a Conservative this year and as a Green several elections ago.

He said he is in favour of all candidates receiving an equal election campaign budget and media exposure to level the playing field for parties and independents. 

St. John said campaigning was very minimal because of COVID-19 restrictions, but he had received a positive response to his social media posts and videos.

“We can’t have public meetings, we’re down to the six people limit. We can’t go and have a rally. It’s ludicrous,” he said. 

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