Man fights $1,200 fine is­sued at rally against COVID-19 restric­tions

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - ANNA JUNKER ajunker@post­

ED­MON­TON An Ed­mon­ton man is chal­leng­ing a $1,200 fine un­der the Pub­lic Health Act given to him dur­ing a demon­stra­tion at the Al­berta Leg­is­la­ture.

The Jus­tice Cen­tre for Con­sti­tu­tional Free­doms is rep­re­sent­ing Patrick Le­feb­vre who was tick­eted by Al­berta Sher­iffs while peace­fully demon­strat­ing on May 2, the cen­tre said in a news re­lease Friday.

Le­feb­vre and a half-dozen other peo­ple were ral­ly­ing and ex­press­ing their con­cerns about shut­downs re­lated to COVID -19 when they were ap­proached by two sher­iffs on bi­cy­cles, the re­lease states. Group mem­bers were told they could not have the rally and chal­lenged the sher­iffs say­ing they were “do­ing noth­ing wrong be­cause there were less than 15 of them.”

The re­lease states Le­feb­vre was “forcibly grabbed” and led over to a sher­iff’s ve­hi­cle where he was ques­tioned for about 30 min­utes and tick­eted $1,200.

“Mr. Le­feb­vre was not told why he was de­tained, what he was tick­eted for or whether he had breached a pub­lic health or­der. The ticket he was given only states that he con­tra­vened sec­tion 73(1) of the Pub­lic Health Act,” the re­lease states.

Sec­tion 73(1) states that a per­son who con­tra­venes this act, the reg­u­la­tions, an or­der un­der sec­tion 62 or an or­der of a med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health or physi­cian un­der Part 3 is guilty of an of­fence.

“The Cana­dian Con­sti­tu­tion pro­tects the rights of peo­ple to as­sem­ble peace­fully and to ex­press their opin­ions at places such as the leg­is­la­ture grounds. The char­ter does not cease to pro­tect these rights, even dur­ing a de­clared pub­lic health emer­gency,” said James Kitchen, a lawyer at the Jus­tice Cen­tre, in the re­lease.

“COVID-19 has not sus­pended the rule of law. The sher­iffs’ ac­tions in phys­i­cally de­tain­ing and tick­et­ing Mr. Le­feb­vre with­out cause were egre­gious.”

Ja­son van Ras­sel, spokesman for Al­berta Jus­tice and Solic­i­tor Gen­eral which over­sees the Al­berta Sher­iffs, said they can­not com­ment as the mat­ter is be­fore the courts.

“We would en­cour­age all Al­ber­tans to abide by pub­lic health or­ders and phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing pro­to­cols as set out by the chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health,” van Ras­sel said.

Mean­while, be­tween March 30 and May 6, the City of Ed­mon­ton has re­sponded to 365 com­plaints re­lated to phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing. Be­tween April 16 and May 7, by­law of­fi­cers have given 281 ver­bal warn­ings for phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing, 58 for mass gath­er­ings, while zero tick­ets have been is­sued.

The Jus­tice Cen­tre for Con­sti­tu­tional Free­doms is rep­re­sent­ing Patrick Le­feb­vre, who was tick­eted at the Al­berta Leg­is­la­ture on May 2.

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