March 22, 2021
Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB— The Manitoba NDP Caucus announced today that they will delay a PC anti-protest bill that undermines democracy and infringes on Manitobans’ right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
“From nurses protesting PC cuts, to people of all ages and backgrounds united against systemic racism, to young leaders demanding action on climate change, our province has a proud history of organized action throughout the province right here on the steps of the Legislature,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “But this is all under threat with the PCs Bill 57 that gives the government unprecedented power to prevent protesters from peacefully gathering at the Legislature. We are delaying this bill to stand up for Manitobans’ right and freedoms.”
Bill 57 gives the government power to levy significant fines against Manitobans who choose to protest in areas deemed “critical infrastructure” by the provincial government. The Bill defines these spaces vaguely as any place that “makes a significant contribution to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Manitobans” as well as the land surrounding it. The bill lists grocery stores, personal care homes, banks and the Legislature as critical infrastructure.
This bill is nearly identical to Bill 1 passed by the Kenney government in Alberta, and which is the subject of a constitutional challenge. In Manitoba, environmental groups, Indigenous leaders, unions and concerned citizens have been outspoken in their criticism of Bill 57 which they feel is a threat to democracy, basic freedoms and communities’ right to protect the health of their members.
"Manitobans have a right to protest peacefully without fear of punishment” said NDP Justice Critic Nahanni Fontaine. “Bill 57 gives the PC government total authority to silence the voices of those who oppose them and suppress dissent. Instead of picking fights with Indigenous peoples and environmental organizations the Pallister government should listen to them and commit to creating policies that make life better for everyone in Manitoba.”