Maxime Bernier was in the back of a police cruiser, arrested for violating public health orders, the last time he visited Manitoba.
On Monday, the People's Party of Canada leader returned to the province to rally support for his federal election run, while again violating public health orders.
Bernier confirmed to the Free Press on Monday that he is unvaccinated. On Sunday, he was in British Columbia. Unvaccinated travellers entering Manitoba are required to self-isolate for two weeks.
"I was supposed to have a rally a couple of weeks ago, but they put me in jail. That was political repression. But I understand that there’s other people that are ready, like me, to fight for their freedoms," Bernier said.
Hundreds gathered around the CN Stage at The Forks to listen to Bernier. Parents brought babies in wagons; seniors came with families.
Attendees toted signs with messages reading "Hey Roussin, Leave These Kids Alone;" "Communism You Masked For It;" and "My Body My Choice".
In June, Bernier had planned a "Mad Max" tour, preaching against COVID-19 restrictions. The tour was cut short when St. Pierre-Jolys RCMP arrested him on June 11 under the Public Health Act for assembling outdoor public gatherings and failing to self-isolate. He was released later that day.
Bernier is campaigning against vaccine passports.
"(They are) immoral, unconstitutional (and) illegal," Bernier said, adding that Canada is turning towards socialism and communism.
The 58-year-old used to be a Conservative MP and served as a cabinet minister in former Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government. Bernier broke away from the Tories in 2018 and formed the People's Party of Canada. The party failed to win a seat in the 2019 federal election.
Bernier arrived in Steinbach Monday morning, then headed to Plum Coulee. The second stop drew at least 1,000 people to a private farm to listen to him speak, according to a Twitter post from Bernier.
"We have not provided permission for this political rally anywhere on our site," a spokesperson from The Forks said about the evening event. "We don't accept or provide permission for political rallies from any party. That has always been the case."
Bernier is scheduled to stop in Neepawa, Dauphin, Brandon and Portage la Prairie on Tuesday.
His court date is set for Sept. 21.
— With files from Cody Sellar
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.