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Alberta Court rules protests were never banned by Public Health Orders

CALGARY: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased to report that Alberta Provincial Court Judge Michael Dinkel has acquitted Calgary freedom rally organizer Brad Carrigan (pictured at left) on charges that were laid under the Public Health Act, for protesting lockdowns and mask mandates.

Brad Carrigan organized and attended weekly rallies against lockdowns throughout 2020 and 2021. On December 26, 2020, Mr. Carrigan was arrested shortly after one of the rallies and held in police custody overnight. He was charged with disobeying public health orders and released until trial.

On May 9, 2022, his trial was held in Calgary. Crown prosecutors attempted to argue that the freedom rally Mr. Carrigan was involved in was a “private social gathering” subject to public health orders issued by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw, which restricted gatherings at the time and even banned Albertans from having company or family visit their own home.

Judge Dinkel agreed with Justice Centre lawyer Hatim Kheir, that protests do not fall under the definition of a “private social gathering” because they are not private. Rather, they are open to the public and an expression of the Charter-protected freedoms of assembly and protest.

"After organizing and hosting over fifty freedom rallies, myself and other Albertans were ticketed and criminalized by the media and various government officials,” says Mr. Carrigan.

“Today’s decision clearly shows our protests were not unlawful private gatherings and our police services should not have been forced to target and ticket innocent attendees for non-compliance of orders made by Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw. This ruling is a great victory for the people of Alberta and Canada who are standing up for freedom," adds Mr. Carrigan.

“The Province ignored the plain and obvious meaning of ‘private social gathering’ and acted as if protesting was illegal when that was never the case. Many Canadians have been baselessly charged, unfairly vilified, and experienced over a year of stress simply for exercising their Charter rights,” says Mr. Kheir.

“This court decision will have an impact on anyone charged for protesting in Alberta. The public health orders never actually captured the act of publicly gathering to protest. At the time the gathering restrictions were in place, Albertans retained the right and ability to protest, contrary to what the police have said,” he concludes.

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