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Group Health Centre president among Sault residents who donated to anti-vaccine mandate convoy

About 70 Sault residents donated to Freedom Convoy 2022 through a crowdfunding site before the funds were frozen by the provincial government
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Group Health Centre president and CEO Alexander Lambert, seen in this 2016 file photo. Lambert confirms he donated $50 to the Freedom Convoy 2022 through a crowdfunding site after a hack made the names of donors public.

The president of the Group Health Centre is among about 70 Sault Ste. Marie donors linked to a crowdfunding effort in support of the blockades in Ottawa, Windsor and Sarnia, according to a leaked document.

A group seeking to disrupt the so-called Freedom Convoy 2022 published a spreadsheet on Monday containing the names, email addresses and postal codes of tens of thousands of people who donated to the cause. The list was acquired through a hacking effort of the crowdfunding site GiveSendGo, which was used after GoFundMe ended payments to the organizers, citing reports of violence and harassment. 

A total of 70 names on that document match up to postal codes in Sault Ste. Marie, with a total of $5,532 donated by Saulites to the cause.

The government of Ontario froze the funds in the GiveSendGo account and the web site was down for a time on Monday because of the hacking effort.

On Tuesday, SooToday contacted Group Health Centre president and CEO Alexander Lambert, whose name appeared on the list because of a $50 donation made on Feb. 5 in support of the convoy.

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Lambert confirmed he made the donation, while noting that his name only became public because of a hacking effort.

“It’s such an awkward issue, especially considering the genesis of this list. I did not anticipate having to get this phone call when I donated 50 bucks and I certainly didn’t reference Group Health Centre at all when I made the donation, but here we are,” he said.

Lambert said he was inspired to donate in the days after the convoy rolled through Sault Ste. Marie on its way to Ottawa.

"This convoy — as it rolled through a few weeks ago with people on the highways and the overpasses closer to Toronto — it was pretty inspiring and I gotta tell you I support what they are doing down there," said Lambert. "This is not the blockades, this is the convoy that is in Ottawa and they are peacefully protesting and I think they are great, frankly."

“I agree with the message, I think it’s time to end the vaccine mandates and I am glad they are getting traction on that message," he added.

Lambert noted he made the donation as a private citizen but said he understands how it could raise eyebrows for someone in a leadership position at a health care facility to donate to a cause seeking to end vaccine mandates.

“It’s consistent with my position on vaccine mandates at Group Health. We did not mandate vaccines at Group Health for existing employees, we left that as a choice. As it happened, I think about 95 per cent of staff and physicians made the choice and that is good for them and I think that is how it should have worked everywhere," said Lambert. "I firmly believe in vaccination choice and bodily autonomy and everything that goes with that informed consent. That’s a choice that I made in the organization and I am happy with that."

Lambert noted that Group Health Centre protocols for screening and PPE are at or above public health and Ministry of Health requirements.

The individual donations made by Saultites ranged from $10 to $850, with the average donation coming in at just under $80.

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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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