Anti-mask rally in Steinbach sparks statement from Justice Minister

It is unclear exactly what prompted people in Steinbach to hold a rally last Saturday against COVID-19 restrictions and then drive the streets and honk, and all the while people from their city and the health region were struggling for life, some dying due to COVID-19.

Were they rallying only against mask wearing, or were they angry over business closures, visiting restrictions or ideals of constitutional rights? Whatever they hoped to achieve, this rally was in defiance of Manitoba’s health orders, it got ugly and tickets were issued.

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Steinbach Online reports:

“Hundreds of people showed up for the protest in the parking lot at A.D. Penner Park to listen to speakers and show displeasure towards restrictions in Manitoba that mandate the use of masks in public spaces.”

According to the publication, Steinbach's Mayor said the organizers of the rally had not obtained a permit for the parade or permission to use city facilities. The Reeve of La Broquerie was among a number who were ticketed with a fine of $1,296 for Fail To Comply With A Public Health Emergency Order.

Monday morning, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen issued the following:

The actions on display in Steinbach yesterday were incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong. The message from Dr. Brent Roussin and our government has been clear – we need every Manitoban to follow the direction of public health officials so we can get our COVID numbers under control.

The willingness of some to disregard openly our public health officials is unacceptable. My message to those individuals is clear: if you are going to break COVID restrictions, you will be ticketed. Every Manitoban needs to know and understand this. We need every single Manitoban on ‘Team Manitoba’ and for those who choose not to be, there will be consequences.

I want to extend thanks to all the officers who are on the front lines enforcing Manitoba’s public health orders. The language and vitriol experienced by our enforcement personnel at yesterday’s event is absolutely unacceptable. These individuals are working to keep all Manitobans healthy and safe so we can slow the spread of this virus and save lives.

Manitobans have been warned and, if they choose to participate in events that openly disregard public health orders, they can expect that enforcement action will be taken. We all need to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba. As Dr. Roussin says, the best way to do that is to stay home. That is the message that we all need to follow – stay home.

© Virden Empire-Advance