COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS vs CIVIL LIBERTIES News Provincial

AHS files contempt of court proceedings against rodeo legend Ty Northcott

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is defending rodeo legend Ty Northcott and his wife Gail Northcott, in response to a Contempt of Court Application filed against them by Alberta Health Services (AHS).

The Justice Centre will be appearing in Court of Queen’s Bench before Associate Chief Justice Rooke, on Friday, June 4 at 8:45 a.m. arguing that the Application against Mr. and Mrs. Northcott is an abuse of process and should be thrown out. Justice Centre Litigation Director, Jay Cameron, and lawyer James Kitchen will be appearing on behalf of the Northcotts.

On May 1-2, Northcott hosted the “No More Lockdown Rodeo Rally” outside on his private rural property near Bowden. Approximately 2,000 people attended each day in exercise of their constitutional rights to free expression, free assembly, and free association. Various media were present and several prominent individuals delivered speeches in opposition to the Alberta Government lockdown. The Northcotts have sworn an Affidavit stating they plan a “No More Jason Kenney Rodeo Rally” to take place on private property on the weekend of June 5-6 and it is “not merely a rodeo, it is also a political rally, the purpose of which is to protest the terrible leadership of Jason Kenney and the freedom-crushing lockdown restrictions he has permitted to be imposed on Albertans.”

RCMP issued a summons to Mr. and Mrs. Northcott shortly after the “No More Lockdown Rodeo Rally.” The Justice Centre is representing Mr. and Mrs. Northcott regarding these charges and tickets they were issued.

This court application by AHS against Mr. Northcott follows the May 26, 2021 announcement by Premier Jason Kenney that the Calgary Stampede is going ahead and that the province is expected to be fully open by the beginning of July or earlier, with no public health restrictions at all.

With visible jubilation, Premier Kenney said, “Let’s think about doing a Premiers’ pancake breakfast… let’s see if we can pull one together in a few weeks time.”

The public outrage was swift when photos surfaced this week of Premier Kenney and various cabinet ministers, including Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment & Parks, Government House Leader, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Minister of Finance Travis Toews and four unnamed UCP staffers.

The politicians were photographed dining on the outdoor balcony of the “Sky Palace” on top of the Federal Building, on Tuesday, June 1, with what appears to be bottles of red wine, Jameson whiskey, and San Pellegrino, earning the moniker “PatioGate”.

This follows “TravelGate,” the December 2020 scandal where Alberta MLA’s were found to have travelled outside the country at Christmas in violation of public health officials advising citizens they must stay home and not travel. December was also when the Alberta Government instituted health orders forbidding citizens from having visitors to their home. A total of eight senior Alberta government officials and MLAs were confirmed to have left the country despite provincial and federal advice to avoid non-essential international travel, in many cases to visit their families and go to regions in the US without Covid public health orders in affect.

On January 4, 2021, Premier Kenney tweeted: “Albertans have every right to expect that people in positions of public trust be held to a higher standard of conduct during the COVID-19 pandemic…Millions of Albertans have made real sacrifices over the past 10 months to help keep each other safe.”

The Northcotts face these contempt of court charges based on a revised order that was first issued on May 6 by Associate Chief Justice Rooke and originally worded such that it applied not only to Whistle Stop Café and associated protestors, but to every Albertan having notice of this May 6 injunction, otherwise known as “John and Jane Doe”.

AHS boasted in a May 6 news release that it “sought and received a court order against all other organizers of advertised illegal gatherings and rallies breaching COVID-19 public health orders.” Suddenly, Albertans gathering outdoors in numbers larger than five could be locked up in jail immediately, without any ability to defend themselves against unconstitutional health orders.

An injunction that applies to the entire population departs radically from precedents that require injunctions to be limited only to named individuals, or to a very narrow category of citizens who can be identified by way of a specific description.

On May 13, 2021, the Justice Centre appeared in court to amend the May 6 AHS injunction, such that it would no longer apply to every Albertan. Lawyers for AHS, aware that the May 6 order was overbroad, consented to this change. Justice Rooke amended the injunction shortly after 10:00 a.m. on May 13. From that moment onward, it applied only to the named respondents and those acting in concert with them, not to every Albertan. The CBCCanadian Press, and other media were present (virtually) in court, but failed to report on the amendment to the injunction.

After the amendment, the Justice Centre informed police forces in Alberta that the order no longer applied to the public at large, but only to certain individuals affiliated with Whistle Stop Café. Law enforcement continues to make arrests even after being informed of this court order amendment, presumably on the instructions of AHS.

For example, the original Order was used to arrest Pastor Artur Pawloski, who is not represented by the Justice Centre, and Pastor Tim Stephens, from Calgary Fairview Baptist Church, who is represented by the Justice Centre.

AHS has continued to propagate the legal fiction that the May 13 amended court order applies to every Albertan, now going so far as to bring a contempt of court application against Mr. and Mrs. Northcott to in an attempt to prevent the couple and other Albertans from exercising their constitutional rights to rally, protest against lockdowns, and attend a protest rodeo.

“Covid does not suspend or nullify people’s Charter rights,” said lawyer Jay Cameron. “Where is the evidence that the last rodeo caused anybody any real harm?”