Are health restrictions and lockdowns a violation of the Charter of Rights?
CALGARY -- Alberta premier Jason Kenney was insistent Tuesday that ‘lockdowns’ and the closures of businesses violates the fundamental rights and freedoms of people, opting instead to modify measures in the province’s fight against COVID-19.
“Since when should governments start with an impairment of fundamental charter protected rights and freedoms, rather than engage in such an impairment as a last and final resort?” he asked Tuesday.
Kenney has faced stark criticism from some Alberta doctors and opposition that he should have enacted a full circuit breaker lockdown.
“It seems that an argument could be made that the government’s not doing enough,” said human rights lawyer Kathleen Mahoney at the University of Calgary.
“(And) that the limits are not enough to protect life, liberty and security of the person.”
But Mahoney says no matter what the government does, rights will be infringed upon.
“Emergencies by definition are not permanent,” she said.
“So in another factor in all of this, these steps have to be time limited in order to pass charter muster.”
Tuesday’s announcement was a level-headed approach for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
“I’m grateful for him preserving a measure of civil liberties and he should be supported in that,” said litigation lawyer Jay Cameron.
“Because he hasn’t lost his mind like some of the other premiers in the country.”
The JCCF says it has sued provincial governments across the country five times since the pandemic began for infringing on people’s rights.
Doug Ford enacted a full lockdown in the Toronto and Peel regions of Ontario.
Some businesses have defied the shutdown in that province, such as Adamson Barbecue.
The business was charged and ordered to close on Tuesday.
“Buddy let me tell you something, you gotta shut down, you’re putting peoples’ lives in jeopardy,” said premier Ford at a news conference.
Premier Kenney did not issue a province-wide mask mandate.
In central Alberta, Innisfail town councillor Glen Carritt voted against a notice that would require town staff, including members of council to wear masks while in the administration building. It was subsequently passed.
“If you feel that you want to wear a mask, I have no problem with that,” said Carritt.
“The government can’t be in our business, (and) I believe in the choice and I believe in distancing, so I’m going to vote against any mandatory masks of any sort.”
Mahoney says all rights can be overruled on.
“The charter says that no rights are absolute,” she said.
“So rights can be violated by the government as long as the limits on peoples' rights are reasonable, that they are prescribed by law and that they can be justified.”