June 14, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Lawyers for a well-known anti-lockdown Canadian political leader said they were able to secure his release from prison last Friday after he was arrested for breaking COVID-19 health rules by speaking at a freedom rally in the province of Manitoba.
“The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms [JCCF] announced that its lawyers have secured the release of federal political leader Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), who was arrested and put in jail earlier today by Manitoba police,” said the JCCF in a press release sent out on June 11.
The JCCF noted that Bernier, the leader of the PPC, who is also a former Conservative Party MP and cabinet minister, was granted a bail hearing by Justice of the Peace Madam Becker after spending eight hours in jail.
He has been a vocal opponent to COVID-19 lockdown measures in Canada. He was recently on a cross-Canada “Mad Max” tour, as he calls it, trying to gain support for the PPC while speaking at anti-lockdown rallies. His tour comes in anticipation of a possible fall federal election in Canada.
Bernier’s arrest took place on Friday after speaking a small freedom rally in the village of St.-Pierre-Jolys, which is just south of Winnipeg. His lawyers said the rally had less than 15 people in attendance.
Bernier landed in Manitoba on Thursday. His Manitoba tour was well publicized in advance, and caught the attention of Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who warned Bernier last Thursday that, should he break the local rules, “he’s going to be light in the pocket book.”
According to a CBC report, Manitoba RCMP said Bernier was charged under the province’s Public Health Act for failing to self-isolate upon arrival in Manitoba, as well as for taking part in an outdoor gathering
Currently, Manitoba mandates that all people who enter the province must self-isolate for two weeks. The province has some of the most draconian COVID-19 rules in place in Canada, even banning all outdoor gatherings until last Saturday. Now, up to five people may gather outdoors, but only on private property.
News of Bernier’s arrest went viral after a video of it was posted on his Twitter page, which shows RCMP demand he leave his car.
“If I could get you to step out the vehicle I’m going to place you under arrest right now,” an unidentified RCMP officer can be heard saying to Bernier. He went on to say that he was under arrest in accordance with “provincial health orders.”
The RCMP officer then proceeded to handcuff Bernier, asking him, “Do you have any weapons or anything on you, sir?”
“Weapon? No, no weapon. Only my words,” Bernier responded.
The RCMP officer then asked Bernier if he had “anything on you that’s going to hurt me or anything like that?”
Bernier replied, “Only my words, only my philosophy, only what I believe in.”
At that point, the video shows Bernier being led to an RCMP cruiser.
In a PPC press release published on June 12, Bernier said he knew he “risked being arrested in Manitoba” after earlier receiving a “threatening letter” from the “province’s public health official” before his arrival.
“I knew I risked being arrested in Manitoba after the threatening letter I got from the province’s public health official and declarations from local despot Brian Pallister. But it’s still always a shock when it happens, when the police treat you like a criminal and handcuff you because you dared talking to a dozen people outdoors in a small village half an hour before,” said Bernier.
“It’s crazy to see this happen in Canada … Meanwhile, politicians from Trudeau to Kenney to various ministers get caught flouting regulations, and nothing happens. It’s only ordinary people who pay for not following these tyrannical rules, and politicians like me who openly fight them. The hypocrisy is astounding.”
Justice Centre President John Carpay said that Bernier is “entitled” to be critical of COVID-19 lockdown rules while speaking across the country at rallies. “Mr. Bernier, who is campaigning in preparation of an anticipated federal election, is obviously entitled to criticize the existing lockdowns and draconian restrictions, and governments which impose them, which have been tyrannically impacting the rights and freedoms of Canadians for 15 months.”
Before his arrest Friday, Bernier noted on social media that he already received a ticket from local police.
Carpay said in a statement that the arrest was “outrageous oppression” on behalf of Manitoba’s Conservative Premier Brian Pallister.
“The arrest and detention of Mr. Bernier for supposed ‘health offences’ is an exclamation point on the continued outrageous oppression of Manitobans by the Pallister government. Few, if any, other places on the planet are still locked down as tyrannically as Manitoba,” said Carpay. “It is far past time for the judiciary to restore the constitutional rights and freedoms of Manitobans, and end the arbitrary and oppressive diktats of Manitoba’s health regime. The Justice Centre stands ready to defend Mr. Bernier’s civil liberties.”
Independent federal MP Derek Sloan said about Bernie’s arrest that only “totalitarian countries” go as far as to silence political leaders.
“Maxime Bernier, a fellow Canadian freedom fighter, has been arrested by the RCMP. His crime is attending gatherings in the Peoples Republic of Manitoba. Only totalitarian countries silence and incarcerate opposition leaders,” tweeted Sloan.
Bernier’s bail conditions stipulate that if he breaks any more rules, he will have to stay in jail until his July 27 court appearance in Winnipeg.
As a result, Bernier cut his Manitoba tour short and went home to Montreal on June 12.
The JCCF noted that Bernier was deemed a “flight risk” by the Manitoba Crown Prosecutor, who sought additional conditions which would have violated Bernier’s right to free speech.
Pallister’s Manitoba has some of the strictest COVID-19 health rules in place. The province recently launched an immunization card program for those who have “received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.”
This program allows the vaccinated freedom, but not those who choose not to get the experimental shots. The announcement comes a month after a source within the Manitoba government warned LifeSiteNews about it.