Meagre group protests health orders at Manitoba Legislature
A small group of Manitobans protest public health orders at the Manitoba Legislature on Nov. 21, 2020. (Source: Danton Unger/ CTV News Winnipeg)
WINNIPEG -- A meagre group of Manitobans gathered at the Legislative Building for a rally protesting public health orders – but with more police on scene than protestors, the rally came to a swift and uneventful end.
Only a handful of Manitobans actually showed up for a rally that touted an attendance of more than 300 people. Armed with signs speaking out against recent public health orders, five protestors lined the steps of the Legislature.
"Our economy is going down the toilet," said Patty, a protester at the rally. "I'm here because I believe our country has to open up. We can still practice these measures that have been put in place – the masks, six feet – but the country has to open up."
Patty, along with some of the other protesters with her, was wearing a mask and said they are following the health orders currently in place.
The rally comes as health officials in the province reported 10 new deaths caused by COVID-19, along with 387 new cases of the virus.
READ MORE: 387 new COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths in Manitoba Saturday
Posts from the rally's organizing group 'Manitoba Freedom Rally' claimed 300 people were estimated to show up. The page was deleted prior to the rally on Saturday.
The protestors were far outnumbered by Winnipeg Police Service officers who were on the scene. Multiple cruisers surrounded the front of the Legislature, as Manitoba Justice officers blocked the entrance of the grounds.
"The Winnipeg Police Service was aware of reported COVID-related rallies at several Winnipeg locations and was on scene at those places for safety reasons," police told CTV News in a written statement.
At one point, a group of protesters got into a verbal argument with officers on scene, who told them if they gathered in a group of more than five people – they would be ticketed.
(Source: Danton Unger/ CTV News Winnipeg)
The province did not say if anyone was ticketed at the rally.
"The Province is working closely with law enforcement agencies and many other partner agencies to ensure the public and officers engaged in the enforcement of public health orders are kept safe," a provincial spokesperson told CTV News in a written statement.
"There will be an enforcement presence at large public rallies, or gatherings. People in violation will be subject to fines and we encourage people to refrain from taking part in these types of events."
They said enforcement updates would be released online.
Less than an hour after the rally began, the majority of the protesters left the area.