Saskatchewan court case for pandemic-related tickets moves forward

·2 min read
Mark Friese, left, and Maxime Bernier are both part of a group fighting tickets they received for allegedly violating Saskatchewan's public health order.  (markfriesen.ca - image credit)
Mark Friese, left, and Maxime Bernier are both part of a group fighting tickets they received for allegedly violating Saskatchewan's public health order. (markfriesen.ca - image credit)

A small group of people accused of violating Saskatchewan's pandemic-related public health orders were in court Monday.

This trial involves eight accused including Saskatoon's Mark Friesen, who became known for promoting protests against COVID-19 public health restrictions and then later for being one of the first COVID-19 intensive care patients from the province sent to hospital in Ontario.

Others fighting the tickets include Quebec politician Maxime Bernier, who leads the People's Party of Canada, and Christine Brown, owner of a bar in Milden, Sask., a village located approximately 110 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon.

Bernier did not attend the trial on Monday, but most of the others attended the proceedings at the community centre in Outlook, Sask. Laura Lynn Thompson, who does not live in Sask., listened to the proceedings via phone.

The trial proceedings on Monday focused on a rally held May 10, 2021, in Milden. Crown prosecutor Buffy Rodgers played two videos taken by a local RCMP officer on that day.

They were played as part of a voir dire, essentially a trial within a larger trial. They showed the accused mingling at the rally, indulging in a barbecue and listening to speeches delivered from the box of a pickup truck from people like Friesen and Bernier.

Two RCMP officers testified that they believed there were 50 to 60 people in attendance at the height of the event. The Crown said there was a public health ordering restricting gatherings to 10 people at that time.

Rally attendees can be heard in the recording describing the COVID-19 pandemic as a "plandemic," a "piece of crap deception," a "globalist agenda" and "the great reset."

Bernier posted on Twitter that day that the group was gathered to "show support for the owner of the Milden Hotel & Bar, Christine Brown, who has received two $14k tickets, and for all small businesses that have been devastated by lockdowns." Saskatchewan Health Authority public health inspectors had ordered the Milden Hotel and Bar to close after it failed to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

The defence chose not to call evidence for this portion of the trial. The matter has been adjourned to Oct. 4 in Saskatoon. That's when lawyers are expected to call expert witnesses and evidence related to the legal validity of the tickets and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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