“I have seen select clips of the protest in Red Deer on Sunday, Sept. 20, and I am admittedly disturbed. All Canadians have the right to peaceful protest and to freedom of expression. Those are fundamental rights.
“As Minister of Justice, I have been publicly clear about this. Violence and threats of violence at peaceful protests are unacceptable. Period. All Albertans – regardless of race, religion or creed – have the right to live their lives peacefully. I denounce any instance of bigotry and intolerance, and I have said I will not tolerate this as Justice Minister and Solicitor General.
“Disagreeing does not entitle one to use violence. We can and should disagree with public policy, and discuss issues without resorting to violence.
“The RCMP is responsible for policing in Red Deer. In this case, they are contracted to the City of Red Deer directly. I have spoken to RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, and reiterated the need to get to the bottom of this. Based on that conversation, he has informed me that a criminal investigation has been opened. I understand the RCMP will be speaking to media later this afternoon.
“I have also spoken with Mayor Tara Veer of Red Deer about this incident and the impact on her community, and have assured my department’s support.
“Now I know some are demanding that the government charge individuals at the protest. Elected officials do not direct police charges. It would be completely unacceptable for the Minister of Justice to order the RCMP to arrest an individual and press charges.
“As I have said, I have asked Deputy Commissioner Zablocki about this incident and will ask for a full explanation of Sunday’s events in Red Deer.
“My staff have also reached out to Kisha Daniels, the organizer of this event. I hope to speak with her to better understand what happened.
“Police have a difficult job keeping the peace. But it’s also critically important that the RCMP maintain public confidence by explaining their role in such situations.
“Alberta is a tolerant, open society where we respect our neighbours even if we strongly disagree.
“I am confident that Albertans will overwhelmingly reject the behaviour seen on Sept. 20. And any time we have an incident like this, my hope is that the authorities get to the bottom of it. But more importantly, we must have the tools in place to ensure that peaceful protests do not become violent.
“To all Albertans, my simple message is this: ours is a tolerant society that is built on a diversity of views and opinions. All Albertans can rest assured that as Minister of Justice, I will do everything I can to ensure this is the case.”