CALGARY – Five more Public Health Act tickets issued to individuals exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights have been dropped by Crown prosecutors.
The Justice Centre represents hundreds of individuals across Canada who have been ticketed for allegedly breaching public health orders by participating in peaceful protests, uncovering their faces when doing so is outlawed, attending church, providing services during lockdowns, receiving friends and family into their homes, exercising their right to enter and leave the country, and refusing to post government propaganda Covid signage.
On December 19, 2020, Tony Allen participated in a “freedom walk” in downtown Calgary to peacefully protest government lockdowns. After the event, when Mr. Allen was about three blocks away from where the freedom walk had ended, two Calgary Police Service (CPS) officers on bikes approached him and issued him a ticket for participating in the peaceful march.
Jayna Dykstra, a Calgary woman, was ticketed on December 20, 2020, while walking with her husband, her two children, and friends on their way to another peaceful rally against lockdowns. Ms. Dykstra was holding a sign she intended to display at the rally. Despite not having yet arrived at the rally, she was stopped by a Calgary Police officer and issued a ticket for violating the Public Health Act. She was the only one to receive a ticket despite being surrounded by family and friends that were also walking to the rally. Ms. Dykstra was also the only one holding a sign.
On January 2, 2021, Suzanne Delaine and her partner Jason Rinard participated in the downtown Calgary freedom walk. After the peaceful protest event was over, Ms. Delaine and Mr. Rinard headed back to their vehicle. A Calgary Police officer and a bylaw officer followed them. After Ms. Delaine and Mr. Rinard arrived at their vehicle, two more officers showed up. Both Ms. Delaine and Mr. Rinard were ticketed for attending the freedom walk.
Helen Innes also attended a freedom walk in Calgary on January 10, 2021. Ms. Innes had prepared many large, hand-held signs of the type typically seen at protests. She wrote various messages on each sign criticizing government lockdown measures and promoting civil liberties and health freedom. Ms. Innes collected approximately two dozen of these signs, drove into the downtown of Calgary and attended the freedom walk shortly after it had started. She walked around handing out her signs for other peaceful protestors in attendance to hold up so that they could be read by other rally-goers and passers-by. After the freedom walk was over, Ms. Innes collected her signs and walked back to her car. She was followed by Calgary Police officers. The officers approached her after she entered her car and issued her a ticket.
The above tickets all allege the ticketed individuals contravened Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s prohibition on outdoor “private social gatherings”. All five tickets have now been withdrawn before going to trial.
Several identical tickets issued to other peaceful protestors are scheduled to proceed to trial in early 2022. The Justice Centre will argue that prohibitions on gatherings, whether they are “private social gatherings” or political protests, unjustifiably violate Charter rights and should therefore be struck down by the courts. The Justice Centre will also argue that, since political protest events are not “private social gatherings”, nobody attending the peaceful anti-lockdown rallies and “freedom walks” in Calgary should have been ticketed because they did not commit an offence.
“The scientific data unequivocally shows that outdoor public gatherings are not, and never were, a public health risk,” stated Jay Cameron, Litigation Director for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. “Governments issued tickets for protesting lockdowns to prevent dissent and citizen activism, full stop. It is no surprise these tickets are being stayed now. The health orders prohibiting outdoor assembly to protest the government are unconstitutional, and the ticketing of concerned citizens was an abuse of power.”