Police appear to have ticketed People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier after he spoke at an anti-mask rally in Regina on Saturday.
A video posted to Twitter by Mark Friesen, one of the rally’s organizers, shows Regina police officers giving Bernier a $2,800 ticket for breaking public health orders. The video also shows Friesen and two other protesters being given $2,800 tickets.
Bernier was one of several speakers at a “freedom rally” held in Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon, which drew a crowd of around 200 people, including a large number of children. To loud shouts and cheering, Bernier took the stage wearing a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey.
He called tickets for breaking public health orders “illegal” and “unjust” and said “we will fight that up to the Supreme Court and we will win.”
Nathan Lynchuk, a man who says he resigned from the Saskatoon Police Service after being investigated for attending an earlier rally in Saskatoon, also spoke.
Saskatchewan politicians have been clear Bernier is not a welcome guest.
“Anybody that’s disobeying the public health order and holding rallies is not looking out for their community. It’s very self-serving,” Health Minister Paul Merriman told reporters on Friday.
“If he’s going to cause some issues and break the public health orders, that’s extremely disappointing that a formal federal leader is looking at breaking laws going across our country.”
NDP MLA Nicole Sarauer called this response to Bernier and the growing number of “freedom rallies” across the province weak. She called on the Saskatchewan Party to take a stronger stand against Bernier.
“This is the last thing we need in this province right now,” Sarauer said. “Maxime Bernier and his rhetoric are not welcome here.”
Bernier makes Saskatoon stop
On Sunday afternoon, Bernier spoke before a crowd of about 100 people in Saskatoon, with opening speaker Mark Friesen speculating that the Mother’s Day holiday “might have affected the numbers.”
Bernier opened his remarks by responding to Merriman’s comments from late last week.
“Canada is my home and I have the right to be here,” Bernier said to cheers, as he called for an end to restrictions.
Bernier went on to suggest rally participants were akin to the small minority of Americans who took part in that country’s revolution against the British, and called for attendees’ support in the next federal election.
Several members of the Saskatoon Police Service could be seen at barricades blocking vehicle access to Spadina Crescent in the area of the event.
Plain-clothes officers could also be seen photographing rally-goers from a vehicle parked across the street.
Saskatoon police on Friday had issued a media release saying they would be “increasing monitoring and enforcement of the Public Health Order” at the rally.
By publication time, it was not yet clear if any tickets had been handed out to participants.
—With StarPhoenix files from Bryn Levy
The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Regina Leader-Post has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.