Maxime Bernier freed from jail after arrest in Manitoba for speaking at rally

WINNIPEG: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms 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. Mr. Bernier was granted a bail hearing before Justice of the Peace Madam Becker, and just after 1030pm CST time, on Friday, June 11, 2021, after 8 hours in police custody, Mr. Bernier was released.

Mr. Bernier was in Manitoba to speak out against government lockdowns, which have been some of the most draconian in Canada. Mr. Bernier one of many individuals represented by the Justice Centre, along with citizens across Canada who are exercising their Charter freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, in the face of Covid public health orders. The Justice Centre has already filed a legal challenge in Manitoba maintaining that these health orders are an unjustified violation of Canadians’ fundamental Charter rights.

Mr. Bernier was arrested early this afternoon after speaking at a freedom rally in St.-Pierre-Jolys, a small village 57 kilometres south of Winnipeg. Reportedly, less than 15 people were in attendance. RCMP officers stopped the vehicle Mr. Bernier was a passenger in, handcuffed him and detained him.

Mr. Bernier has been speaking across the country against government restrictions, calling for a complete end to the lockdowns. He has spoken at freedom rallies in Barrie Ontario, Vancouver, BC., Edmonton, Alberta and now Manitoba.

After more than 15 months of severe restrictions, Manitoba has announced it will “allow” groups of five people to be on public property as of Saturday, June 12, 2021, and five people outdoors on their own private property.

The Manitoba Crown Prosecutor claimed Mr. Bernier, a former cabinet minister under Stephen Harper, is a “flight risk” and demanded $1,000 cash bail. The Crown sought additional conditions that would have violated Mr. Bernier’s freedom of speech, association, and assembly including prohibiting him from communicating online or via social media for the purpose of organizing any protest rallies, posting anything about rallies, or attending any such rallies. The court denied this Crown Prosecutor request.

“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,” says Justice Centre President, John Carpay.

People’s Party of Canada spokesperson Martin Masse said in a statement that Mr. Bernier was “wrongfully arrested” on charges that violate his Charter rights. “This isn’t about Covid anymore. It’s political repression. This is the kind of stuff countries like China and Russia do,” Mr. Masse said.

The Justice Centre will continue to represent Mr. Bernier and will appear in court at the end of July 2021 to address the two Manitoba Covid tickets issued.

Mr. Bernier was forced to cut short his Manitoba tour speaking out against lockdowns due to an automatic bail condition stating he must not break any laws or orders in Manitoba. Mr. Bernier boarded a 9:45am CST flight to Montreal to continue his freedom tour. A press release issued by the PPC saqid, “He vows to continue the fight to end the unjustified and disastrous lockdowns in Manitoba and across the country.”

“It’s crazy to see this happen in Canada,” said Mr. Bernier. “It’s 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…” Bernier stated.