Canadian News Mar 18, 2021 6:45 PM EST

Former Conservative MPP suing Ford government over 'right to protest, pray & gather outdoors'

Baber was originally elected as a Progressive Conservative MPP to represent the riding of York Centre in Toronto, but was expelled from the party by Premier Doug Ford after he declared his opposition to lockdowns

Former Conservative MPP suing Ford government over 'right to protest, pray & gather outdoors'
Noah David Alter Toronto
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Independent Ontario MPP Roman Baber is suing the Ontario government over the province's coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions, Toronto Star reports.

"I am suing the attorney general of Ontario for our right to protest, pray and gather outdoors," Baber said. "The risk of outdoor transmission is negligible, but the government enacted heavy-handed regulations that deny Ontarians their fundamental freedoms."

Baber was originally elected as a Progressive Conservative MPP to represent the riding of York Centre in Toronto, but was expelled from the party by Premier Doug Ford after he declared his opposition to lockdowns in an open letter released in January.

The lawsuit alleges that some aspects of Doug Ford's Reopening Ontario Act are unconstitutional. According to Baber and the organization Lift the Lockdown, which is collaborating with him on the lawsuit, some measures within the law violate Charter rights to "free association, the free expression of ideas and peaceful assembly, including for protests."

Baber, whose riding is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the country, specifically mentions the prohibition on members of the Toronto Jewish Russian Community Centre from gathering outdoors for prayers. Baber himself is a Russian Jew born in the former USSR.

He also insists that outdoor restrictions "are inconsistent with their purpose or over-intrusive and therefore in violation of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act."

Ford defended his position on lockdowns earlier this week, saying that he will continue to take the advice of health officials.

"I’m going to stick with what I've done right from the beginning, I'm going to stick with health and science and work with them collaboratively," Premier Ford said during a press event in his native Etobicoke.

"I will always, always listen to the chief medical officer [and] his team because they're the professionals when it comes to health care, and I'm not."

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