Justice minister suggests mandatory minimum fine not needed for COVID freedom rallies

The Saskatchewan NDP is still working to introduce increased minimum fines for organizers of COVID-19 rallies which defy Saskatchewan’s public health order.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Gord Wyant said on Monday there is no need to establish a mandatory minimum penalty with respect to these infractions. He believes it will not deter individuals from not following health measures, but that people will face consequences for their actions based on the current fining system.

“Public Prosecutions will aggressively prosecute those tickets and we’re confident we will be able to enforce those penalties,” discussed Wyant. “I don’t think putting in a mandatory minimum in place is going to at all deter these individuals from continuing to do what they have been doing.”

The provincial government recently shut down NDP proposed amendments to The Emergency Planning Amendment Act, which would have increased the minimum fine for what NDP Deputy Leader Nicole Sarauer described as “anti-mask, pro-COVID” rallies to at least $10,000.

Sarauer announced on Monday after question period that she will introduce a bill Tuesday under The Public Health Act. While she was unable to provide many details of the bill, she said they have been adamant about the need for mandatory minimum fines for organizers of these types of events.

“It’s clear that $2,800 isn’t doing anything. We want to put forward something that is more than that,” stated Sarauer. “$10,000 seems like a significant fine that we hope these organizers would take seriously.”

She added that a $10,000 fine would be more difficult for people to fundraise enough money to pay off their penalties based on what she has seen from recent fundraising efforts by fined organizers.

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