Justice centre launches legal challenge against Covid restrictions

By Catherine Griwkowsky December 7, 2020

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) has launched a legal challenge against the province’s latest round of public health restrictions.

The John Carpay-led justice centre filed the challenge with the Court of the Queen’s Bench Friday, which argues the November 24 public health measures interfere with Albertans’ charter rights.

“The people of Alberta have suffered under the oppression of a medical dictatorship for long enough,” said JCCF lawyer James Kitchen. “The soul-destroying lockdowns have wrought havoc. It’s time for Albertans to get their freedom back.”

The centre argues the orders violate a number of charter rights, including the right to practice religion (currently religious services in Edmonton, Calgary and other hot zones are capped at one-third occupancy). The court filing also contends that the chief medical officer of health’s ability to issue orders under Section 29 of the Public Health Act violates “unwritten constitutional principles,” because she is unelected, and therefore the orders should “be of no force or effect.”

While the chief medical officer of health has the power to sign public health orders, broader policy decisions are made by cabinet.

None of the claims in the lawsuit have been proven in court and, as of this morning, the government has not responded to it.

The JCCF previously threatened to launch a legal challenge against the City of Calgary when it was considering whether to implement its own lockdown measures.

“Arbitrary and authoritarian control, based on fear-mongering by the government, only ever exacerbates the problems facing society, as we have seen for the last nine months,” Kitchen said. “Politicians have not put forward any persuasive evidence that lockdowns have saved lives, but there is no question that lockdowns have caused grave harm to millions of Canadians suffering unemployment, poverty, cancelled surgeries, suicides, isolation and the loss of their liberty.”

The lawsuit argues that “the mere existence of COVID-19 in Alberta does not constitute an emergency.”

Carpay, JCCF’s president, attended a rally against the restrictions in Calgary, one of two marches held over the weekend.

Premier Jason Kenney said he was “very disappointed” with the maskless protesters.

“It’s irresponsible to gather in large numbers, especially at this point in the pandemic,” Kenney wrote on Twitter. “It shows a disregard for health-care workers and the vulnerable. There are lots of ways to protest [government] policies without risking viral spread.”

Carpay is a member of the UCP. He previously caused outrage for comparing the rainbow Pride flag to a swastika (he later apologized).