Travel Vaccine Mandate Challengers File Arguments in Federal Court of Appeal

Travel Vaccine Mandate Challengers File Arguments in Federal Court of Appeal
An Air Canada plane takes off from Montreal Trudeau Airport on Dec. 5, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)
Noé Chartier

Challengers to the now-defunct travel vaccine mandate have filed their arguments in Federal Court to appeal an October decision that dismissed their cases on the grounds of mootness.

“The federal government’s threat to reinstate the travel mandate should have been the deciding factor for the Federal Court to hear this case,” says Allison Pejovic, a lawyer representing former Newfoundland premier Brian Peckford and his co-applicants.

Peckford and PPC Leader Maxime Bernier are supported in their cases by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF). There are also two other sets of challengers, including businessmen Karl Harrison and Shaun Rickard, and Quebec lawyer Nabil Ben Naoum.

“The public interest in this case is staggering. Canadians need to know whether it is lawful for their own federal government to prevent them from travelling across Canada or leaving the country based upon whether they have taken a novel medication,” Pejovic said in an April 24 statement.

The JCCF says the written arguments for Peckford and Bernier’s cases were filed on April 13. This follows the different parties filing a notice of appeal after the Federal Court’s decision to declare their lawsuits moot on Oct. 21.

Associate Chief Justice Gagné ruled that there was “no important public interest” to justify hearing the case.

“The Applicants have substantially received the remedies sought and as such, there is no live controversy to adjudicate,” she wrote in her decision.

“There is no important public interest or inconsistency in the law that would justify allocating significant judicial resources to hear these moot Applications.”

Gagné also said the court should not dictate or prevent future government actions.

These points had been presented by the attorney general during the mootness hearing last September.

Justice Canada senior general counsel J. Sanderson Graham said the interim orders had expired and did not exist as law and that the applicants’ rights were not affected since they could now travel.

He also warned the court shouldn’t make any “unnecessary” constitutional pronouncement that he said could have a “deleterious” effect on future cases.

Sam Presvelos, legal counsel for Harrison and Rickard, had argued during the mootness hearing that “mandates are not a relic of the pandemic past” and that the attorney general had not submitted evidence they would never be brought back.

The Liberal government had imposed a vaccination mandate for travel in plane, trains, and some marine vessels in October 2021.

On June 20, 2022, the government didn’t renew an interim order implementing the mandate, but emphasized in public communications it was merely being “suspended” and could be brought back depending on circumstances.

Eight days later the attorney general filed a motion to dismiss the case over mootness. Hence the October ruling was on the issue of mootness and not directly on the substance of the case.

Lawyer Samuel Bachand, who represents Bernier, told The Epoch Times that the challengers spent a great amount of effort to build their case only to see it dismissed before being heard.

He says that by doing so, the court “turned a blind eye to egregious state action” not seen since the October Crisis in Quebec in the fall of 1970.

Bachand says the court still needs to determine whether the vaccine mandate was constitutional, with the challengers claiming it was a violation of charter rights.

“Letting the government off the hook without a trial in this case could bring the administration of justice into disrepute. That is why we filed an appeal,” he says.

The federal government will file its response with the court and a date to hear the appeal will be announced afterwards.