Small Victory from COVID Insanity: Charges Against Maxime Bernier for Niagara Falls Protest Withdrawn

ST. CATHARINES, ON: May 15, 2024 The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased to announce that two charges against federal party leader Maxime Bernier have been withdrawn. The charges stemmed from his 2021 attendance at a protest against Ontario’s Stay-at-Home Order in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The Justice Centre provided for lawyers to represent Mr. Bernier. The charges against him were withdrawn on May 14, 2024, in the Ontario Court of Justice (Provincial Offences Division) at the request of the prosecutor after Mr. Bernier donated to a Niagara Region charity.

On April 17, 2021, Mr. Bernier attended a peaceful protest in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The protest started at the Clifton Hill War Memorial and moved across the street to the Oakes Garden Theatre where a crowd of approximately 500 people listened to various speakers, including Mr. Bernier. For his participation, Mr. Bernier was charged with failing to comply with the Stay-at-Home Order and with failing to comply with an order under the Reopening Ontario Act.

At the time, the province’s Stay-at-Home Order prohibited citizens from leaving their residences unless it was for one of 29 purposes deemed “essential” by the Ontario government.

Mr. Bernier is a former Cabinet Minister under the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper. He held ministerial portfolios in Industry, Foreign Affairs, and State. He was chair of the National Defence Select Committee from 2009 to 2011. In 2018, he left the CPC and founded the People’s Party of Canada.

Chris Fleury, lawyer for Mr. Bernier, says, “With the exception of Randy Hillier’s challenge of the Stay-at-Home-Order and our ArriveCAN challenge, this was the last ticket case that we were defending in Ontario. We are slowly putting this shameful period behind us.”

Former Ontario provincial politician Randy Hillier continues his fight against the Stay-at-Home Order with an appeal following the loss of his constitutional challenge to that Order. Mr. Hillier’s hearing is scheduled at the Ontario Court of Appeal in September.

Details on the ArriveCAN challenge can be found on the Justice Centre’s website here.

Chris Fleury continues, “While we would have preferred that no one who attended this protest was charged in the first place, this is an excellent outcome for Mr. Bernier. Ontario’s Stay-at-Home Order was unnecessary, unscientific, and ultimately harmful. It is encouraging that prosecutions of this nature are finally coming to a close.”