A businessman from Levis, on Quebec City’s South Shore, has barricaded himself in a house in a tense standoff with police that began Thursday evening.
The Canadian Press spoke with the allegedly armed man who said he’d made it his mission to defy COVID-19 health rules.
In the past few days, the businessman posted several videos on social media indicating that he was determined to stand up to the government over its health measures and that he would defend his right to hold rallies during the holiday season.
In a video published Thursday, the man goes further, saying he would organize a gathering in his house that same evening and that the authorities could not prevent him from doing so.
Also in this video, which circulated on social networks, the man showed a weapon explaining that he intended to defend his house.
Provincial and Levis police officers went to a residence on Coutances St. and remained there as of Friday morning, because the man was still barricaded inside.
Reached by phone by The Canadian Press, the man said he had a hunting rifle, but that he did not intend to use it if the police did not enter his home.
“I have a hunting rifle at home to defend my property, but not to cause bad luck,” he said before adding that he “had no intention of hurting anyone” and that he “was calm” in his kitchen.
“I want to show Quebecers that they do not have the right to prevent us from celebrating Christmas at home,” he said in a calm tone.
“I will not cause anything irreversible unless the authorities have enough arrogance to enter my home.”
He also said he was accompanied, without specifying the number of people there or their identities, but the SQ said on Friday morning that there was no indication that other people were on the scene.
In conversation with The Canadian Press, the man said he believed the death toll from COVID-19 was “inflated” and that the media, as well as the government, were complicit in a crime against humanity.
“Me, I say no Mr. Legault, no Mr. Arruda, you are not going to prevent me from celebrating Christmas,” he said.
The man produces crops and came in contact with many Quebecers last summer when he allowed free access to his fields.
He told several media outlets that he had not been able to find the manpower necessary to operate his field because of the pandemic.
“It will be approximately $135,000 that the owner will leave in the fields this year. We are talking about approximately 50,000 lbs of blueberries,” reported the regional newspaper Le Soleil.
“I didn’t want to waste half of the harvest. I’ll get through it and next year we’ll come back stronger. We are all winners!” he told a Le Soleil journalist.
At around 10:30 a.m. Friday, SQ spokesperson Béatrice Dorsainville said that negotiations with the barricaded man “were still active.”
Residences in the area were evacuated and a large security perimeter was erected.