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