Five Manitobans admit to breaking COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Five Manitobans have been convicted of repeatedly violating COVID-19 public health orders.

Patrick Allard, Tobias Tissen, Todd McDougall, Sharon Vickner and Gerald Bohemier have admitted to breaking limits on outdoor public gatherings in 2020 and 2021.

Provincial court Judge Victoria Cornick convicted the five on Wednesday based on a statement of facts agreed to by their lawyers.

The Crown is seeking fines of between $18,000 and $42,000 each, depending on the number offences of each person, plus court costs and surcharges.

Read more: Manitoba pastor who defied public health orders arrested on outstanding provincial warrant: RCMP

The Crown says the five not only repeatedly broke health orders, but organized events at which they encouraged others to do so as well.

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Allard and McDougall have said they plan to appeal to a higher court, where they hope to challenge the public health orders under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Defence lawyer Alex Steigerwald, who represents four of the five, said the Crown’s proposed fines would be unduly harsh and crushing.

He asked the judge to impose a reprimand, which would not involve any fines. If fines are to come, he said, they should not be high.

“They weren’t breaking windows. They weren’t rioting in the streets,” Steigerwald told court.

“My clients stood up and protested for something they believed in.”

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