Many Canadians are successfully getting their COVID tickets dropped — and all should be fighting them, says the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
The Justice Centre, a Canadian legal advocacy organization that takes a socially conservative approach to Canadian constitutional law, has been representing hundreds of Canadians who’ve been fined for allegedly breaching public health orders for: participating in peaceful protests; uncovering their faces; attending church; providing services during lockdowns; receiving friends and family into their homes; exercising their right of movement; and refusing to post COVID signage.
The burden is on the Crown to prove that Canadians are guilty, and those who are fined shouldn’t be quick to pay up, said Jay Cameron, the Justice Centre’s litigation director.
“These tickets are easy to issue and difficult to prosecute, and all Canadians should be pleading not guilty,” Cameron told iPolitics on Thursday.
Collecting evidence to prove the guilt of an alleged offender strains the Crown’s resources, Cameron said, and before prosecutors decide to proceed with a case, they must determine if it’s in the public interest and whether a conviction is likely.
The Justice Centre recently succeeded in getting four tickets issued to people in Alberta and Saskatchewan dropped, for a total of about 30 tickets dropped, Cameron said. Lawyers at the organization are “chewing” through another 90 or so tickets, he added.
Tracy Fortin, the pastor at Edmonton Church of the Vine, had a ticket for obstruction dropped, which she received after allegedly refusing to allow Alberta Health Services (AHS) officials to disrupt a Sunday church service, according to a Justice Centre news release.
The Justice Centre is also representing Grace Life Church, whose congregation has been locked out of its church building since April 7. After the church’s pastor continued to hold services, despite provincial law limiting the number of worshippers allowed inside at one time, the AHS directed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to barricade the church so members couldn’t enter.
Provinces like Alberta have used “arbitrary and rash measures” to fight COVID-19, Cameron said, noting that while Grace Life Church, which is southwest of Edmonton, has its doors locked, the Calgary Stampede will be in full swing from July 9 to 18.
The stampede has averaged 120,000 visitors per day in previous years, although the event’s website says venue capacities have been “carefully reviewed and updated based on legislated requirements for physical distancing.”
The Justice Centre also successfully defended Lucas Ignjatic, who was fined $1,200 for not wearing a mask while waiting in line at the Calgary courthouse, despite telling two courthouse sheriffs he was exempt from the face-covering requirement.
Meanwhile, at last week’s G7 summit in the U.K., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was photographed several times not wearing a mask while in close proximity to other world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden.
When asked for comment, the Prime Minister’s Office directed iPolitics to Health Minister Patty Hajdu’s office, which did not respond by publication time on Thursday.
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