Sask. NDP pushes to raise fines for 'freedom rally' organizers
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan NDP continues to push to impose fines that specifically target organizers of so-called freedom rallies and anti-mask protests.
At the beginning of May, the provincial government increased the maximum fine for someone breaking the public health order to $7,500 with a 40 per cent surcharge, totalling $10,500.
However, the NDP wants a special clause for protest organizers to allow for a fine of no less than $10,000 plus surcharge, which would be a $14,000 ticket.
The NDP brought forward a motion for an emergency debate on the topic Monday, however the speaker ruled it out of order due to a technicality. The Opposition also attempted to introduce a private member’s bill, but the NDP pushed that to Tuesday because of procedural issues.
NDP justice critic Nicole Saurauer said it’s clear that the current fines aren’t doing anything to deter organizers.
“Ten thousand dollars seems like it's a significant enough fine, that we hope that these organizers would take it seriously. And we're looking forward to introducing the bill and being able to have that discussion with the minister. It needs to be something more than what we've been doing,” said Saurauer.
Minister of Justice Gordon Wyant doesn’t think increasing the minimum fine would hinder protest organizers.
“They're going to have to face the consequences of the prosecution with respect to those tickets. I can tell you that the public prosecutions will aggressively prosecute those tickets and we're confident that we'll be able to enforce those penalties,” said Wyant.
The Manitoba government recently announced it will be doubling fines for repeat offenders who defy public health orders. Manitoba premier Brian Pallister also said unpaid fines could impact individuals’ ability to get or renew a driver’s licenses and the province could garnish wages.
Wyant said all of those options are available under Saskatchewan law, adding that the government is “quite confident” it has the tools to collect fines that have been given out.