COVID lockdowns don't work, People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier told crowds in Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops on Friday.
"Lockdowns are an experiment that failed," said the Beaucu, Quebec-based politician, who is also a leader with the non-partisan End the Lockdowns Caucus of Liberty Coalition Canada.
"We need to reopen the economy and gain back our freedom. We can end lockdowns and stay-at-home orders safely and let people go back to work, students go back to school and churches and businesses to reopen."
Bernier met with a crowd of mostly unmasked 30 supporters Friday morning outdoors on the plaza of the Landmark 6 office building in Kelowna before heading off to similar rallies in Vernon and Kamloops.
On Thursday he stopped in Penticton.
"I'm not a doctor or medical expert (he's actually a lawyer and businessman), but I know the virus is most harmful to older people and that the survival rate of people who get COVID is 99.6%," he said.
"So, yes we have to protect our older people and long-term care residents by having them stay at home, but for the rest of us, the country has to open up. We also need to roll out the vaccine faster and achieve herd immunity."
Bernier said such an approach has worked in states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas.
"If you are under 60 and get the virus you aren't going to die unless you have compromised health already and young people are almost unaffected if they get the virus," he said.
Bernier's itinerary going forward includes Vancouver on Saturday and a press conference in Edmonton on Monday at the Grace Life Church, which has been barricaded for defying COVID shut down rules.
Bernier served in Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet while he was MP for Beaucu between 2006 and 2019.
In 2018, Bernier left the Conservatives to form the populist, libertarian and small 'c' conservative People's Party of Canada as a "principled alternative to the corrupt establishment parties."
"I came out today to meet Maxime not just because I was the People's Party candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola in the 2019 federal election," said Allan Duncan, a Kelowna-based house painter.
"But because I support what he says. We need lockdown solutions to regain our freedoms."
The End the Lockdowns Caucus is currently made up of 49 politicians and former politicians including Bernier; independent MP Derek Sloan of Hastings-Lennox and Addington, Ontario; Leader, Saskatchewan Mayor Aaron Wenzel; Lanark-Frontenace-Kingston independent MPP Randy Hillier; West Lincoln, Ontario Mayor Dave Bylsma; and Abbotsford city councillor Brenda Falk.
The Liberty Coalition has developed into a national network of elected officials, small business owners, concerned citizens, legal experts and clergy who support the End the Lockdowns Caucus.