LONDON, ONT. -- London’s mayor made it clear he has no time for those planning a weekend rally in protest of COVID-19 safety measures.

“These people want attention and recognition. And I’m not prepared to give them any,” said Ed Holder Thursday at a daily virtual news conference.

But perhaps it was the awkward and deliberate silence that followed Holder’s terse statement that said even more about how he feels about a so-called ‘Lawful Freedom Rally’ planned for Sunday at Victoria Park.

A number of prominent figures in the anti-face covering campaign are listed as scheduled speakers at the event, including the controversial pastor of the Church of God in Aylmer, Ont., Henry Hildebrandt.

It’s the latest in a series of rallies and marches throughout southwestern Ontario that have condemned COVID-19 protocols.

In spite of the movement’s momentum, Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie said he stands by the safety measures that are in place.

“Unfortunately this keeps coming up. I think the mayor has nailed the political issue, it’s folks seeking attention for themselves. Masks are now very well established as an important control measure in reducing the spread of COVID-19. No one has ever said they are perfect but they definitely contribute to reducing the spread.”

A news release to promote the rally states “Our rights and freedoms are being stripped away.” It also promises a “family friendly” march to follow the speeches.

Meanwhile, in his defence of face-coverings, Mackie added, “anyone that is against that is essentially rooting for COVID-19, instead of for the health of the population.”