On Thursday, January 21, 2021, BC Premier John Horgan told reporters he would not impose a travel ban based on a “review of our legal options.”
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees our right to mobility in Section 6: Mobility Rights.
6 (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
(2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right
- (a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and
- (b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
This sudden deference to the Charter by John Horgan’s government is deeply perplexing given his NDP government willingly violated the fundamental Charter rights of British Columbians, rights supposedly protected in Section 2 of that document.
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
Dr. Bonnie Henry’s rationale for prohibiting all worship services in British Columbia was the “possible COVID-19 exposures at the Gurdwara Baba Banda Singh Bahadar Sikh Society in Abbotsford.”
It wasn’t based on an actual outbreak but on a possible exposure to COVID-19.
Contrast this with the High Priestess’ treatment to a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 at Big White Ski Resort.
- There was no order to shut the facility down.
- There was no order to shut down all ski resorts in the province.
Instead, the Interior Health Authority issued this statement:
“We are confident with the safety plan in place by Big White Ski Resort. Outdoor activities at Big White are considered safe for anyone following public health direction.”
Premier Horgan, here are two simple questions I dare you to answer publicly.
- If seeking a legal opinion before deciding whether or not you would violate our mobility rights was so darned important, why didn’t you seek a legal opinion before violating our religious freedoms as defined in Section 2 of the Charter?
- Why do you continue to allow Dr. Bonnie Henry, your High Priestess of COVID, to violate the religious rights of British Columbians?
Premier Horgan, your government’s glaring inconsistencies combined with your blatant refusal to apply these restrictions uniformly across all sectors of British Colombian life is why more and more people refuse to take any of your public health orders seriously.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a legal challenge in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against restrictions on public protest and worship services resulting from Public Health Orders issued by B.C. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The Justice Centre represents over a dozen individuals and faith communities who have been issued multiple tickets of up to $2300 for allegedly violating the Orders while exercising their Charter freedoms.
To donate to the JCCF in support of this legal challenge, please visit https://www.jccf.ca/donate/
peter bolten says
A couple of thoughts or questions here Chris, what are the rules within the walls of a church for spacing and masking and singing, to limit the Covid spread? There are many examples of other religious gatherings in early 2020 of clusters of infections and deaths in many countries and unfortunately in many of those countries that were affected religion and poverty are often mixed and go hand in hand with poor health care delivery systems endemic within some of those countries. Italy was badly hit right up front.Faith alone does not protect [ e.g. think the black plague, dengue, Ebola etc]
I am surprised that with the strong feelings of religious needs among many groups that the rollout of vaccinations does not include those that need this vaccine sooner than later, and get a choice to receive it close to first appointments.
2/ Does not the charter of rights have limitations that Horgan can employ…i.e. demonstrable need of public safety or a form of Exigent circumstances ? Stop interprovincial travels.
I’ve been puzzling this in my mind for that last two days. Today a medical expert described how a flying traveler got and brought over the South African Virus by travelling not to S.Africa BUT to the EU , passed the Covid test negative , arrived in north America /Canada and then tested positive. It demonstrates that the virus and it’s variants can hide from tests and pop up later from other source countries.
I believe that all interprovincial travel and overseas/USA travel be restricted/prohibited and a case made that even outdoors people MUST refrain from entering other people’s safe space. The “6 foot” rule should not be perceived as allowing random strangers to come up to another human without permission, and that if requested or demanded, that I / we have the right to tell that person to get lost , go away, move over there, etc.
I recently had this problem multiple times at one of my Ranges with random violations of my space and privacy sans masks. All summer long in outdoor spaces too, people and pet walkers were approaching me without my permission , and so many people are now out there , social media and overt curiosity-violations of other’s activities of solace and privacy are occurring too often.
Christopher di Armani says
Hi Peter. Thanks for your questions.
To my understanding, all of the churches in question are complying with all social distancing requirements including the wearing of masks indoors. Where they draw the line is when the government demands they shut down public worship services while leaving literally every other public place open.
If you looked at the two examples I cited in this commentary, there was NO CONFIRMED CASES at the Abbotsford Sikh temple. There was only “the possibility” (their words) that people may have been exposed, yet this was Bonnie Henry’s rationale for shutting down ALL public worship services.
At the Big White ski resort there were a slew of CONFIRMED CASES yet Bonnie Henry did NOT close all ski resorts in the province. She did not even shut down Big White. It continues to operate to this day.
It’s this inconsistency that is the core of the issue (setting aside for the moment the Biblical commands for public worship, obviously).
Bonnie Henry’s health orders are arbitrary, inconsistent and nonsensical. They are not applied fairly.
While there may be clusters in other countries, as you posit, I’m not concerned with what other countries are doing. I’m concerned with what British Columbia is doing since I live here.
If these restrictions were applied evenly, fairly and consistently, Peter, I would have a far harder time opposing them, but they are not. The specifically and directly abuse the Charter rights of one group.
That’s a problem for me. I’ve spent most of my writing life opposing government abuse of our rights. I will continue to do so – pandemic or not – because a virus does not strip us of our fundamental human rights.
The Charter does not cease to exist simply because Bonnie Henry wants it to. Any restriction of our Charter rights must be justified and must infringe our rights as minimally as possible.
There is no legal grounds for shutting down churches yet leaving ski hills open. Likewise, there is no legitimate grounds for travel restrictions unless those restrictions can be directly linked to solving the problem they claim to solve.
At no point have I said faith alone will protect people nor, to my knowledge, have any of the pastors at any of these BC churches.
Nobody is forcing parishioners to attend worship services. This decision is left up to each individual, as it should be. That said, those who wish to participate should be afforded at least the same opportunity to do so as the government gives recreational skiers.
Is COVID extremely dangerous for a segment of our population? Absolutely.
Has the government botched their entire approach to dealing with COVID? Again, I would say absolutely.
I hope that answers your questions but, if not, I’m happy to give it another shot.
Yours in Liberty,
Christopher di Armani
peter bolten says
yo, thanks for the reply Chris. As a background I’ve been raised within a Christian family setting and attended a religious private. elementary school kindergarten thru 7. Various denominational teachers.
Currently my elderly dad has had to restrict his church attendances and LTC -home volunteering , lost his walking group, and is maintaining a tight small bubble with some other friends of similar ages. Many of his activities have been curtailed, it isn’t easy and I understand.
Many of his age group and activities groups will voice the opinion they would rather chance the risk of Covid , than risk dying of loneliness. I see this in my healthcare work… many residents/patients are alone, Living and dying alone. Visitation restrictions. Severe staffing shortages. It is hard.
I’m drifting here a bit, so about ski-hills. One, I think Vancouver Island should be shut down to travel from other BC points and that unfortunately means curtailing the Ferries and all the internal tourists that have been flooding our ski hill and backcountry and my island of sanctuary. Two, when this pandemic started Mt Washington/Strata imposed a road block for several months, and I abided. Now with the snow good and deep the Ski Hill there is in full operation and the chalet and condos full and the rental shops and lodge and trails going full bore it seems [ word of mouth and news , I’ve avoided it]. It seems to be a 180 turnaround. I’m not sure how risky that is but as i mentioned earlier, random in-my-face encounters have occurred elsewhere this past year and I don’t doubt that this occurs on the slopes too. Also just before the Mountain there is a chain up-snowmobile launch site and that is a zoo. There must be some virus risks there in that confined alcove.
I agree that there must be some uniformity and consistency in our approaches,
The local economy relies heavily on this example and that probably factors into the way the government and health officials are thinking province wide.
Not restricting interprovincial travel flies in the face of a multipoint plan put forth by First Nations recently. So now all the recent “back-yard” tourists that have been numerous this past year on Vancouver Island will now be even more prevalent this year, and social media and outdoor forums aren’t helping the matter.
These days I have a new emotion in the wilderness that didn’t exist before 2020… apprehension. When I see someone some group within the places I once considered as solitude and safe I am apprehensive and seek a preliminary exit plan.
2021… how will this year unfold?
Solace has different definitions for us all. I feel I am loosing mine.
Arie Intveld says
Simple. Travel generates cash flow. Attending religious services does not.
Pandering to (and shilling for) Big Pharma vaxx production generates a multi-billion dollar gravy train. Upping one’s Vitamin D intake and getting some exercise in fresh air and sunshine does not.
10 continuous months of violating people’s rights and freedoms has had zero effect on safeguarding the population’s physical health. But it has devastated the population’s mental health and financial well-being.
Any who now still defer to government and public health officials to keep themselves safe and healthy are not part of the solution. They are the problem.
A real pandemic doesn’t need a global marketing campaign.
Christopher di Armani says
“A real pandemic doesn’t need a global marketing campaign.”
Well said, Arie. Well said.
I am going to borrow this.. very well said!
Christopher di Armani says
I’m still waiting for Premier Horgan to even acknowledge receipt of my questions, let alone answer them. Let me know if you have any better luck!