Maxime Bernier has been released after a bail hearing following his June 11 arrest in Manitoba, where he attended a rally against COVID−19 restrictions, the legal organization representing him said in a statement.
RCMP say Bernier was charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self−isolate upon entering the province. He was arrested south of Winnipeg.
Our Leader Maxime Bernier was wrongfully arrested this afternoon by the RCMP in St-Pierre-Jolys, Man., for attending rallies with supporters.
-PPC Team pic.twitter.com/sbOpu6RORn
— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) June 11, 2021
Bernier, a former cabinet minister and member of the Conservative Party who quit in 2018 to form the People’s Party, has been regularly attending rallies and marches against COVID-19 restrictions in different parts of the country.
In a written statement that did not mention Bernier by name, Manitoba Justice said a Quebec man was arrested for “failing to follow public health orders as a result of unlawful gatherings today in Niverville and St−Pierre−Jolys and to prevent further offences related to attending, participating, and organizing public gatherings throughout the province.”
Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is representing Bernier, said that after appearing before Justice of the Peace Madam Becker for a bail hearing, the former MP was released. The non-profit organization said the crown prosecutor demanded a $1,000 cash bail, as well as additional conditions to restrict him from communicating online to organize protest rallies or post about such events. The court denied the crown prosecutor’s request, the Justice Centre said.
“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,” Justice Centre president John Carpay said in a statement.
A video of Bernier’s arrest posted on his Twitter account shows an RCMP officer handcuffing Bernier and asking if he had any weapons.
“Only my words,” Bernier responded.
Manitoba has banned almost all public gatherings as part of COVID-19 restrictions, and requires anyone entering the province to self-isolate for 14 days.
The province will be easing some of its restrictions starting June 12.
With files from The Canadian Press
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 10:30pm