BC drops five more Covid tickets as Charter challenges continue
VANCOUVER: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased to announce that five more “public health” tickets issued to individuals represented by the Justice Centre have been dropped by Crown Prosecutors. An additional ticket issued to a self-represented litigant has also been thrown out.
The Justice Centre represents hundreds of individuals across Canada who have been ticketed for allegedly breaching public health orders by participating in peaceful protests, uncovering their faces, attending church, providing services during lockdowns, receiving friends and family into their homes, and refusing to discriminate against their fellow citizens by denying entry to their businesses.
Three tickets totalling $6,900 in fines were issued to Nadine Podmoroff, a health care worker who has organized three outdoor events in Castlegar and Nelson, BC to peacefully protest government overreach and unconstitutional public health orders and mandates. Ms. Podmoroff turned to the Justice Centre to defend her rights.
Ms. Podmoroff said that leading up to the December 21, 2020 freedom rally she was in contact with police. “I had spoken to Seargeant Taylor several days prior to the event, and he said that if we followed the law, we would not be ticketed. He monitored the event throughout and said we behaved peacefully. He did not issue anyone a ticket until two days after the event, which is when he came to my home and issued me the ticket,” she notes.
Ms. Podmoroff subsequently organized two additional outdoor rallies for which she was also ticketed. Those tickets have now been stayed but one December ticket currently remains outstanding. On November 5, 2021, the Justice Centre filed a Notice of Constitutional Question, challenging the validity of the tickets issued to Ms. Podmoroff and another individual who had participated in the April 3rd protest in Nelson.
On November 15, 2021, the Crown dropped both of the tickets challenged by the Justice Centre’s Notice, and also dropped a ticket issued to another individual who had spoke at the same April 3rd protest. Further, the Crown dropped the ticket Ms. Podmoroff had received for the February 6, 2021 protest.
Ms. Podmoroff’s ticket for the December 21, 2020 protest remains outstanding nearly a year later. The Justice Centre has sent a letter to the Crown inviting it to drop Ms. Podmoroff’s remaining ticket on the basis of the legal victory it achieved earlier this year in the case of Beaudoin v. British Columbia, 2021 BCSC 512, where Chief Justice Hinkson declared that the restrictions on outdoor protests in BC at that time violated Charter and were no force or effect.
“The scientific data unequivocally shows that outdoor public gatherings are not, and never were, a public health risk,” says Jay Cameron, Litigation Director at the Justice Centre. “Tickets were issued to those protesting lockdowns to prevent dissent and citizen activism, full stop.”
Other tickets issued to the Justice Centre’s clients protesting or holding in person religious services have also been recently dropped in BC.
Yet, in some places, the Government has shown an unwillingness to drop Covid tickets. For example, in the Fraser Valley, the Justice Centre is defending individuals on dozens of $2,800 tickets they received for participating in in-person religious services. In Fort St. John, the Crown is proceeding against a church that was ticketed for recording a Zoom service in its building, with its necessary staff, pastor and worship leaders present.
“The Justice Centre will continue to defend BC citizens against the Government’s unjust violation of their Charter rights,” states Mr. Cameron.