On August 8, 2021, BC Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey B. Gomery slammed the door on violating an individual’s right to medical privacy.
“There is no good reason to ask the question and I therefore declined to put it to panellists,” Justice Gomery ruled.
A Crown prosecutor wanted Justice Gomery to exclude any potential jurors who were not vaccinated or who refused to allow the Crown to violate their right to privacy.
From the decision:
Objectively, the risk to jurors, if some of them are unvaccinated is very low. If panellists had expressed concerns about Covid exposure, I would have excused them in any event.
The proposed question as to vaccination status trenches on a private and personal sphere. Panellists might well have reasons to wish not to discuss their vaccination status in public in the intimidating environment of a courtroom. Some might be intimidated by the question itself. Offering an assurance that they need not reply would mitigate, but not eliminate, the pressure.
This is not in itself a reason not to put the question – participants in the justice system are sometimes required to disclose personal and private information in open court – but the question is one that should only be required if circumstances demand it.
I am not persuaded that the question would provide information that I could properly make use of in deciding whether to stand aside or excuse a juror. The power to stand aside a juror is granted under s. 633 of the Code “for reasons of personal hardship, maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice or any other reasonable cause”.
The participation of an unvaccinated juror – or one who will not say that he or she has been fully vaccinated – does not engage a question of personal hardship of the juror in question. Given our experience to date of jury trials with unvaccinated jurors, as I have described, I do not think the participation of unvaccinated jurors risks public confidence in the administration of justice. Nor am I persuaded that a failure to provide an assurance of fully vaccinated status constitutes “other reasonable cause”, at least at this time under the health and social conditions now prevailing.
The BC Civil Liberties Association’s Privacy Handbook says:
Although the Charter does not contain the word “privacy”, and does not include a freestanding “right to privacy,” privacy interests have been recognized to be at the root of some of the protections granted by the Charter.
The Supreme Court of Canada has decided that the source of the section 8 right is that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a free and democratic society.
The liberty right in section 7 protects an individual’s privacy when making the kinds of fundamental life choices which are at the core of individual dignity and independence, so that they can be made without interference from the state.
The right to privacy and to maintain the privacy of information about ourselves has been recognized as an essential aspect of liberty in a free and democratic society.
Justice Gomery’s ruling in favour of our right to privacy is extremely promising in an age where courts routinely rule COVID-19 trumps our rights in almost every other area of life.
Now, if we can just find a judge, anywhere in Canada, willing to rule in favour of our Charter Section 2 right to freedom of expression and our right to freedom of religion, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms might actually be worth the paper it’s printed on.
Lynn Cournoyer says
Finally someone reasonable in the world of justice and our rights. It is no ones business if you are vaccinated or not. Hats off to Justice Gomery.
Excellent ruling. Unfortunately I have no faith that other judges will abide by this precedent, and will likely say some “think of the children” or “of it saves one life” BS to justify ignoring it. I am in on any class action lawsuit regarding vax passports.
peter bolten says
Two days ago Bonnie Henry and the Health Minister’s office announce that all health care workers MUST take two doses of the vaccine before oct 12th 2021, or else….meaning job loss. There is no mention n of exemptions for medical reasons, of which many people have had reactions after faithfully putting out their arms for the first jab. And trying to document these with their G.P.
And no apparent medical follow-up and studies of these people that had adverse reactions.
Then there are those for whatever reason did not go for any vaccination.
Unions and employers are quoting ” you agreed to the collective contract” , “majority opinion rules” [ shaming in reality], ” a very high bar for exemptions “,excuses for not allowing these workers to give consent or allow autonomy of body.
Trudeau’s core of ministers also wish to similarly mandate this upon over 500,000 federal workers.
I am hearing open talk of Trudeau being a communist.
Of my multipoint concern here is another biggy: when many of these people are fired, jobless as a result of not complying, they will be facing difficult hardship , notwithstanding other stressors in life such as housing/rent issues and relationship issues and family and financial issues… there will be a surge , an epidemic of suicides and self-harm and crisis-line overloads.
Trudeau/Blair, Freeland/ Lametti talks the talk of women’s rights and suicide=prevention, and yet this action and BC’s actions will propel many people down this irreversible path.
Christopher di Armani says
A good friend of mine is in this exact spot, Peter. She must either get the jab – which she is totally opposed to – or lose the career she’s built over the past 10 years because of some arbitrary government edict. She is distraught, as you can imagine, at being forced into making a decision no human being should ever face: accept forced medical treatment in violation of her Charter rights or lose her job. Because nobody is willing to stand up to COVID and defend Charter rights. It’s sickening.
Steve Barragan says
Sure hope more Judges rule in favour of freedom like this Judge has. I’m really concerned and have actually lost sleep about the latest announcement by the minister of transport. I cannot in good conscience before God take the vaccines due to them being abortion tainted and I am a Christian. The reality is that I may lose my job as a result of this draconian measure. I find it interesting how Liberals are all for “My body, My Choice” when it comes to abortions but when it comes to a personal decision about a vaccine they say and do the complete opposite. Sometimes I wonder how far will this nonsense go?
Christopher di Armani says
I suspect we will find out exactly how far this nonsense will go on September 21st – the day after the federal election.