Premier Brian Pallister railed against those who illegally attended an anti-mask rally in Steinbach over the weekend, advising them to check their mailbox in the coming days for a pricey ticket.

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Premier Brian Pallister railed against those who illegally attended an anti-mask rally in Steinbach over the weekend, advising them to check their mailbox in the coming days for a pricey ticket.

He also promised to announce additional enforcement measures to back provincial coronavirus-related health rules as early as Tuesday.

At a press conference Monday, Pallister decried the actions of the close to 200 people who broke a public health order against group gatherings in Steinbach on Saturday.

The gathering occurred as the local hospital was swamped with COVID-19 patients, with some forced to be triaged while waiting in their cars in the parking lot.

A politician who spoke at the event, La Broquerie Reeve Lewis Weiss, was handed a $1,296 ticket. It's unknown if anyone else was fined.

Premier Brian Pallister warned participants of Saturday's anti-mask rally in Steinbach to expect tickets in the mail. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Premier Brian Pallister warned participants of Saturday's anti-mask rally in Steinbach to expect tickets in the mail. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Without going into a lot of detail, Pallister said more tickets will be forthcoming.

"I’ll let the police do their work. I’ll simply say that the consequences of stupidity are going to be felt by the people who were there violating the rules. And they should look forward to — and check their mailbox... for a penalty to come in the mail to them...," he said.

The fact that provincial health and justice officials had monitored the Hugs Over Masks event prompted questions as to why more tickets weren't issued, but the officials had received threats from participants, Pallister said, adding the situation was "pretty dangerous."

Rally participants could have been identified when they got into their vehicles and had their licence plates recorded.

Told of the premier's remarks, an RCMP spokeswoman would only say Monday that the investigation is continuing in partnership with provincial enforcement partners.

Speaking directly to the scofflaws on Monday, Pallister said: "COVID is real. COVID kills people. So you don’t have to believe in COVID, but COVID believes in you, and COVID is going to find you if you’re not careful."

If there are other rallies that lead to greater virus transmission, Manitobans might be faced with more stringent measures, Pallister said. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press files)

If there are other rallies that lead to greater virus transmission, Manitobans might be faced with more stringent measures, Pallister said. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press files)

If there are other rallies that lead to greater virus transmission, Manitobans could face more stringent government measures, he said.

The premier also weighed in on reports that some big-box stores have been selling non-essential items, while smaller local establishments have been forced to close during the provincially imposed code-red restrictions.

"I’m concerned about that," he said, adding he has asked Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler to meet with business representatives to explore solutions.

Some large retailers are abusing the situation, something that wasn't as obvious earlier this year when similar retail restrictions were in place, he said, noting new measures addressing the issue could be announced within days.

Meanwhile, more enforcement measures — including new fines — could be announced Tuesday, he said.

"I’m fine with fines if that’s what it takes... Deterrents matter," the premier said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.