Speaking with Fox News Digital, Bernier told a cautionary tale of his arrest while attempting to speak out against the “authoritarian” Canadian government headed by Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Justin Trudeau. He sought to warn those in the U.S. to not take their freedoms for granted, lest they end up with the same “draconian” measures already governing his home country.
When asked about what some have described as a heavy-handed response by governments of countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand in attempts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Bernier detailed restrictions he and his fellow Québécois were forced to endure throughout the height of the pandemic, including curfews between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., stay-at-home orders and an economic lockdown.
“Now, after more than a year-and-a-half, it’s still the same,” the 58-year-old Bernier said before stating he chose not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus because he felt his chances of dying from it were low. “Here in Quebec right now you have a vaccine passport. So for me … I cannot participate in civil society, I cannot go to a restaurant, I cannot go to a baseball game or hockey game.”
“It’s discrimination that’s happening right now in Quebec. It’s happening also in Ontario, in B.C., in Manitoba,” he added, stating that the implementation of the passport requirements to travel would begin at the end of October. “The vaccine passport is mandatory. And for me, I won’t be able to travel across the country inside Canada, by plane or by train because I don’t have the vaccine passport.”
According to Travelweek, a Canadian travel news outlet, the Canadian government’s planned rollout of a national vaccine passport is planned for the fall, but may be delayed past October.
Bernier told the story of his June arrest in the central Canadian province of Manitoba as he attempted to hold rallies against coronavirus restrictions across the country.
He claimed that because the PPC was the only political party in Canada speaking out against coronavirus restrictions, he felt it necessary to begin campaigning before the start of the official campaign season ahead of September’s federal election, which lasts between 36 to 50 days before election day.
“I was arrested, handcuffed, and put in jail for a non-crime after a political gathering for about 12 hours,” Bernier said. “That was political repression, and the government in Manitoba didn’t want me to do a rally over there in Winnipeg and speak against these draconian measures.”
He stated that at the time the number of people allowed to meet in the parks where his rallies were held was limited, leading to his gathering breaking the imposed rule. The rule was lifted a few weeks following his arrest.
“I was doing a meeting in a park because the rules were that we were not able to have any meeting inside, and I was arrested because we were more than five persons in a park social distancing outside on a nice summer day,” Bernier said. “I was the only one who received a ticket and the only one who was put in jail for that and not the other people there. So that’s why I said it was political repression.”
Bernier said that he was due to be in court next month, but that his court date had already been delayed more than once. He claimed that the reason for the delay was because “the government knows that he will win,” and the reason he was cited was unconstitutional.
He also expressed concern over how he would travel to his court date considering he would be unable to take a train or plane within Canada once the government implements a national vaccine passport requirement.
“I don’t know what will happen. It’s my right as a politician to be able to travel and meet people, and that’s what I want to do. So that will be a little bit challenging for me if that rule is in place. It would be a huge discrimination,” he said.
Bernier explained that his party’s focus in September’s federal election was to oppose restrictions like lockdowns and vaccine passports because it amounted to “discrimination” and “a kind of segregation.”
The Liberal Party remained the governing party, and Trudeau the Prime Minister, with 32.6% of the vote, but Bernier was quick to point out gains made by the PPC. The party, which was formed in 2018, went from 1.6% of the vote in the 2019 election to 4.9% this year, overtaking the much older Green Party at 2.3%.