Prosecutors in Alberta are continuing to withdraw tickets issued to residents who had defied COVID-19 public health orders.
“Public health officials are not the supreme law of the land—the Constitution is,” said Jay Cameron, litigation director for the Justice Centre. “A significant portion of the arbitrary and confusing public health orders which have so oppressed Canadian society are, on their face, unconstitutional and cannot be justified. As a result, many of the tickets issued for the supposed violation of such orders will never be prosecuted.”
Cameron said the mass withdrawal of COVID-19 tickets is likely to continue as prosecutors across the country “correctly decide to stay charges.”
The organization is representing nearly 100 people who were ticketed for violating provincial public health orders in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.
Cases of Withdrawn TicketsIn one of many cases, Trevor Marr was given a $1,200 ticket under the Public Health Act after randomly joining a protest rally on Dec. 19, 2020, in downtown Calgary. On Feb. 25, the Crown notified the Justice Centre that the ticket was withdrawn.
“I agreed with what the speaker was saying, the restrictions resembled Communist China more than freedom-of-speech-Canada. It felt good to live in a democracy where I thought we were free to protest!” Marr said, according to the Justice Centre.
Bernie Driedger, a primary care paramedic, was issued a $1,200 ticket on Dec. 22, 2020, for not wearing a mask while shopping at a grocery store in La Crete, Alberta. Driedger said a “nosy out-of-towner” was taking pictures of residents who refused to wear masks, and he believes the photo was sent to the provincial authorities.
“On a personal level, I believe wearing a mask is unnatural, unsanitary, and predominately anti God … I believe it to be symbolic. Wearing a mask shows the world I am easily compliant and am a willing participant in orders unsubstantiated by proper science or reason,” he said, according to the Justice Centre.
Driedger was suspended from work for three days because of the picture. His ticket has since been withdrawn by the Provincial Crown Prosecutor.
In Calgary, Ryan Audette was issued a $50 ticket for allegedly not wearing a mask while attending a demonstration against lockdowns in November 2020.
On March 2, Calgary Crown Prosecutor Maggie Burlington ordered the ticket to be dropped.
According to its website, the Justice Centre has filed court actions in five provinces to end what it believes to be “Charter-violating lockdowns.”