Man who gave $100 to kids' lemonade stand says cash was just a good deed

A Winnipeg man who gave a group of Winnipeg kids $100 at a lemonade stand along with a business card for an anti-tax website is speaking out.

Winnipeg police say they want to speak to Marcel Bessette about the incident

Marcel Bessette says the incident was a misunderstanding. (Marcel Bessette)

A Winnipeg man who gave a group of Winnipeg kids $100 at a lemonade stand along with a business card for an anti-tax website is speaking out about what he says is a misunderstanding, following concerns from parents.

But police say the incident, while not illegal, was inappropriate and are looking to speak with Marcel Bessette to warn him not to do it again.

Bessette, who identifies as "Marcel of the family Bessette," said Monday he was disturbed to read concerns from parents in Winnipeg's Wolseley​ neighbourhood, who called police after he gave $100 to a group of five kids last Thursday.

"It was meant to be a really warm good feeling thing," Bessette said.

$20 bills given to kids

Toby McCrae said her two sons were selling lemonade at the corner of Lipton Street and Westminster Avenue last Thursday along with two friends when a man handed them five $20 bills with a card that explained how to make money "with your own society."

McCrae called police after her son told her he saw the man get into a white van down the street.

Bessette said he never got into a van and wants to set the record straight about the incident to put parents' minds at ease.

"I don't want them thinking there's a predator in the neighbourhood when there's not. I mean there might be but it's not me," he told CBC Monday.

Bessette is a member of the Peace Maker Society — a group that doesn't believe in paying taxes — and said he simply wanted to spread that message while supporting the young entrepreneurs. 

"I just walked up, told them it was for the lemonade stand, that I was proud for them for being entrepreneurs, that I've run stuff through my life and here's 20 bucks each and a card so you guys can learn with your family."


Bessette told CBC he does not pay taxes and that it wasn't his intention to scare any parents, but in hindsight, he understands why parents were concerned.

"The kids in the moment were really excited. I think it's once they got home and there was a misunderstanding with their parents perhaps for the motivation of the incident."

Winnipeg police spokesman Jay Murray said the incident is troubling and while not illegal, police want to talk to Bessette.

"It's one thing for him to approach an adult and kind of communicate those beliefs, but I don't think it's appropriate for him to talk to minors about this," he said. 

"You can't be doing this kind of thing."

Murray said Bessette is known to police and officers are still trying to find him to talk about the incident.

with files by Chris Read and Austin Grabish