There will be no charges laid to the vandals who defaced a statue of Queen Victoria on the Manitoba Legislative grounds last summer.
Manitoba Justice said in a statement that following an investigation, no charges will be laid in relation to the toppling of statues or the organization of the protests at the legislative grounds held on Canada Day last year. The vandalism occurred in wake of discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools
. A 51-year-old man was arrested and later released for damaging a private vehicle on the Legislature grounds after the event. He faced charges of mischief and assaulting a police officer.
“The ability to peacefully protest or demonstrate is important in a free and democratic society,” Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said in a statement provided to the Winnipeg Sun.
“It is in many ways at the heart of a democracy. The exercise of that democratic expression however comes with its own expectations by society, including respecting the rights and safety of others. Where there is either violence or property destruction in a protest or demonstration, those are rightfully investigated by the appropriate law enforcement. They then exercise their discretion based on evidence, whether legal action can or should be taken by way of laying a charge.”
Former Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister called some of the vandalism seen at the Legislative building last summer “unacceptable” in a statement.
“They are a major setback for those who are working toward real reconciliation and do nothing to advance this important goal,” he said on July 2, 2021.
“Those who commit acts of violence will be pursued actively in the courts. All leaders in Manitoba must strongly condemn acts of violence and vandalism, and at the same time, we must come together to meaningfully advance reconciliation.”