Hundreds of people gathered at Borden Park in Edmonton on Saturday as Maxime Bernier launched his three-day tour in Alberta.
The People's Party of Canada leader continued to rail against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions, while taking advantage of looser health guidelines in the province with a maskless meet and greet at a Spruce Grove, Alta., church, just west of Edmonton later in the day.
"People are fed up and they want to gain back their freedom," Bernier said to cheers from the crowd at Borden Park.
"Because we know that without freedom, there's no human dignity, equality of rights and economic prosperity. And we know that freedom is the foundation of our Western civilization."
Bernier once again used a phrase similar to one used by far-right militia group the Three Percenters — "When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty" — at his rally in Edmonton.
Craig Mostat, who has previously voted Conservative, attended his first PPC rally on Saturday. He said he was drawn by Bernier's "respect for freedom" and choice.
"I think people are realizing that our charter of rights and freedoms is gone," Mostat said, referring to vaccine passports. "People are realizing that it's gonna get more and more restricted unless something changes.
"You can vote for the PPC or you can vote for tyranny, there's two choices."
Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said he's not surprised by Bernier's rising popularity, especially in Alberta.
"And I think it's because they found an issue," Bratt said.
"If you listen to the rally, there's a lot about balanced budgets, and immigration, and climate change."
"But the issue that's galvanizing them is COVID. And this is where the anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-COVID restrictions crowd has migrated."
Bernier has defied health orders in other provinces he has toured.
Earlier this month, Bernier, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19 defied Manitoba health orders requiring out-of-province travellers who aren't immunized to isolate upon entering the province.
Canadians head to the polls Sept. 20.