Alberta protesters vindicated as judge strikes down $1,200 COVID tickets
EDMONTON, Alberta, September 3, 2020 (Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms) — The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased to announce that two more $1,200 tickets issued under the Public Health Act to individuals exercising their Charter rights to peacefully protest have been withdrawn by Crown prosecutors.
On the afternoon of May 2, 2020, Patrick Lefebvre and approximately six others were at the Alberta Legislature grounds in Edmonton, peacefully protesting the Alberta Government COVID lockdown measures. Mr. Lefebvre was approached by two Alberta Sheriffs on bicycles. One Sheriff told Mr. Lefebvre, "You're not going to be able to have your rally here." The Sheriffs then forcibly grabbed Mr. Lefebvre by the arms and physically compelled him to walk off the Legislature grounds to a Sheriff vehicle.
Mr. Lefebvre was detained by the Sheriffs for approximately 30 minutes. He was issued a ticket in the amount of $1,200 for allegedly contravening an order of a medical officer of health, although the ticket did not state what order Mr. Lefebvre allegedly contravened. The Sheriffs did not explain to Mr. Lefebvre what was unlawful about his conduct, or specify why he was forcibly removed from the Legislature grounds and detained.
On the afternoon of May 10, 2020, Patrick Tipper and approximately 50 other individuals, independently attended the Legislature grounds to peacefully rally against the Canadian Government gun ban and the Alberta Government COVID lockdown.
During the rally, two teams of three Sheriffs each moved among the attendees, targeting individuals for detentions and removal from the grounds. One team of Sheriffs approached Mr. Tipper and demanded that he accompany them off the Legislature grounds. He was detained and ticketed.
Mr. Tipper’s ticket was also in the amount of $1,200 and issued for allegedly contravening an order of a medical officer of health. Like Mr. Lefebvre, Mr. Tipper was not told what was unlawful about his conduct or why he had been removed from the Legislature grounds.
Crown prosecutors have now withdrawn the tickets issued to Mr. Lefebvre and Mr. Tipper. This follows the withdrawal by the Crown of a similar ticket issued to Cory Teichroew, also represented by the Justice Centre.
Mr. Lefebvre and Mr. Tipper have each submitted a complaint to the Alberta Sheriffs regarding the conduct of the Sheriffs that apprehended and ticketed them.
“Many citizens are alarmed at the government response to COVID-19 and the resulting erosion of democracy and violation of constitutional rights. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects individuals’ freedom to peacefully assemble and express their opinions, especially at important symbolic locations such as the Legislature grounds. This protection is even more vital during declared emergencies, to ensure citizen voices are heard and civil liberties preserved”, states Justice Centre lawyer James Kitchen.
“The removal from the Legislature grounds and ticketing of Mr. Lefebvre and Mr. Tipper undermined the rule of law and was an abuse of power by the Sheriffs. The Justice Centre is pleased to see another tacit acknowledgment from the Crown that these tickets were issued in breach of constitutional rights,” adds Kitchen.
Published with permission from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.