People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier admitted that he violated Manitoba's quarantine requirements for people not vaccinated while returning to Manitoba on Monday for the first time since he was arrested by RCMP in June. He did so to attend a rally against public health orders in St-Pierre-Jolys.
"These orders are unconstitutional and immoral, and I will always fight for my freedom, the freedom of all Canadians," Bernier said in an interview with CBC News.
According to Manitoba provincial regulation, anyone entering the province must self-isolate for 14 days, although those vaccinated against COVID-19 and some essential workers are exempt.
On Monday, Bernier attended a rally in Steinbach followed by events on a private farm near Schanzenfeld and in Winnipeg. At a rally at The Forks, over a thousand people attended.
Bernier had previously been charged under the Public Health Act for assembling in a gathering at an outdoor public place and for failing to self-isolate once he got to Manitoba.
When asked about why he did not self-isolate this time, Bernier said he was "taking a chance." "But if I have to go back to jail to defend our freedoms and the freedoms of all Canadians, I'll do that."
Bernier and his party have focused on making opposition to mandatory vaccination and mask-wearing their key issue going into the election.
"Most of what he said was really non-obtrusive, like it doesn't hurt you. Walking around with a passport doesn't really keep you safe from anything. All it is is compliance with rules and regulations," said one attendee at his Steinbach rally. "It doesn't save anybody. It doesn't make you any less vulnerable to a bug. The passport thing is almost like … discrimination."
At Schanzenfeld, between 1000 to 2000 people turned up to hear Bernier. "Freedom. Freedom matters in this country. It's a part of our Constitution, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms," he said at the event. "Choosing, free choice is also in there. Those are two examples of things that have been taken away from us, and though they are in our Constitution, they are not playing out because of the health order."
His Manitoba tour will continue tomorrow in Dauphin, Brandon and Portage la Prairie.