British Columbia

RCMP issue third $2,300 fine to organizer of anti-mask rally in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the organizer of a protest in the city's downtown area on Saturday that contravened provincial public health orders related to COVID-19. The same organizer has now been fined three times.

'The provincial Public Health Orders are not optional,' RCMP say

Attendees gathered at the rally in downtown Kelowna on Jan. 16, 2021. (@pinklady_ktown)

Kelowna RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the organizer of a protest in the city's downtown area on Saturday that contravened provincial public health orders related to COVID-19.

Police did not name the organizer but say this is the third time they have issued a fine to this person for organizing a large gathering of people opposed to measures meant to reduce the spread of coronavirus. 

RCMP did not say how many people attended today's protest. A week ago, RCMP issued their $2,300 fine to the organizer for an anti-mask rally that drew about 125 people.

The first fine was issued in December for a protest that drew about 1,000 people.

RCMP said they attended a rally involving around 100 people in downtown Kelowna on Saturday Jan. 9, 2021 to ensure the safety of the protesters and the public. They were back a week later to do the same. (Heather Friesen)

In a statement, RCMP said that people in Canada have a right to protest, but that officers have to balance that right with the potential for health risks associated with large public gatherings.

Police say they encourage everyone to adhere to provincial health orders, which currently include the suspension of outdoor gatherings, including rallies or protests.

"We are reiterating to the public that the provincial Public Health Orders are not optional," Supt. Kara Triance said in a statement.

"For those who have been abiding by the laws, thank you; now is not the time to give up. Vaccinations are being rolled out across our province. Please dig deep and find the courage to remain safe and calm."

Participants at a rally in Kelowna on Saturday Jan. 9, 2021 carry signs protesting mandatory face masks and other pandemic health orders. (Heather Friesen)

With files from Anita Sthankiya, Chris Walker and Brady Strachan

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