An Edmonton man who was given a $1,200 ticket for “contravening an order of a medical officer of health” for speaking his mind on a public sidewalk will be fighting his fine with help from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).
The man was with two friends in Old Strathcona, a busy, commercial part of the city, and was distributing flyers while maintaining social distance. The men used gripping tools on poles to maintain a 2 metre distance from passers-by while distributing their materials.
Sergeant Blackburn of the Edmonton Police Service received complaints from citizens and threatened to ticket the men if they were still there when he returned.
According to the JCCF, "the three men continued to exercise their Charter freedom of expression. Sergeant Blackburn returned approximately 30 minutes later and issued a ticket to one of them for $1,200 pursuant to section 73(1) of the Public Health Act. Sergeant Blackburn refused to ticket the other two men, even after they had requested to also receive tickets."
“The Canadian Constitution protects the rights of people to peacefully express themselves on streets, whether through music, art, or the written or spoken word. The Charter does not cease to protect these rights, even during a time of crisis,” said Justice Centre lawyer James Kitchen.
“COVID-19 has not suspended the rule of law. Public health orders cannot be abused by Peace Officers to punish citizens who are publicly expressing themselves—all while complying with public health orders—with draconian fines. Further, Peace Officers are required to exercise their own judgment, rather than acting blindly on complaints,” Kitchen continued.
As the coronavirus era continues, local governments and police continue their crackdown on those who insist on exercising their civil liberties. Meanwhile, the Trudeau government has released hundreds of criminals from the prison system for reasons of "safety."