A Kelowna RCMP officer's slander and libel claim against a COVID protester and YouTuber has been dismissed.
Earlier this year, Const. Conrad Erbes filed a lawsuit against Marcel Irnie in small claims court, over a series of videos recorded on Jan. 29, 2022 and posted to YouTube.
The videos documented Irnie's interaction with Const. Erbes, as Irnie was inside his truck camper parked outside of Kelowna City Hall. This was at the peak of anti-COVID mandate protests in the city, following a particularly large rally in nearby Stuart Park. Irnie says he was there to "peacefully protest against vaccine mandates and other restrictions" and report upon the protest for his YouTube channel.
One video of Irnie's interaction with Const. Erbes gained 185,000 views on Irnie's YouTube page.
Insp. MacIntosh of the Kelowna RCMP told Castanet in February of 2022 that he fully supported Const. Erbes' actions as seen in the videos.
Irnie was given tickets for several traffic violations stemming from the altercation with the officer, which he fought in court and they've since been stayed by a judge.
In response to the videos being published, Const. Erbes handed Irnie a “cease and desist” notice on Dec. 14, 2022 while Irnie was in court fighting his tickets, and Const. Erbes later filed a notice of claim in small claims court against Irnie.
“Since that date, over several months Mr. Irnie did by way of direct action willfully and intentionally, slander, libel and actively attempt and succeed in damaging the professional and personal character and reputation of Conrad Erbes,” Const. Erbes wrote in the handwritten claim filed March 29, 2023 in Kelowna.
But small claims courts in B.C. do not have the power to deal with cases involving libel and slander, and Judge Andrew Tam dismissed the case on that basis.
Irnie says he believes the officer has been "vindictive" in pursuing the suit against him.
Irnie has filed a complaint against Const. Erbes with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission of the RCMP, claiming the officer served him court documents while in RCMP uniform as “an act of intimidation” which was “outside the scope of his duties.”
As a result of that complaint, a Code of Conduct investigation was initiated against Const. Erbes, according to a June 2023 letter from the Kelowna RCMP. It's not clear where that investigation currently stands.
Irnie says he has an additional two traffic tickets that are still outstanding, stemming from the January 2022 altercation, but that were given to him by Const. Erbes during the December 2022 court date. Irnie says Const. Erbes gave him these additional tickets outside a Kelowna courtroom at the same time he gave him the cease and desist letter.
Irnie says he has a court date next month to challenge those tickets as well.