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Court to hear challenge to Alberta government cancelling Christmas

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

EDMONTON: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms filed a court challenge on December 7, 2020 to Orders made by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) to end the lockdown in Alberta. The Justice Centre is representing two churches and two individuals alongside Alberta law firm Rath & Company, who represents another individual.

An injunction application to temporarily stay select restrictions imposed by the CMOH has also been filed by the Applicants. Justice Centre lawyer James Kitchen will be in virtual court on the morning of Monday, December 21 at the Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench to make submissions regarding the injunction application. The hearing is open to media and the public and starts at 9:30 a.m. (The hearing can be accessed via this link, but all non-lawyers must submit a form prior to the hearing in order to be permitted access by the Court. Please connect to the courtroom 15 minutes prior to the start of the hearing and ensure your microphone is muted. More information relating to Webex protocols and procedures can be accessed here).

Among other things, the Justice Centre will argue that the Court should lift restrictions that attempt to outlaw healthy friends and family from gathering at each other’s homes to celebrate Christmas, and the public health order that prohibits all outdoor gatherings. Under this Order, grandparents cannot go visit their grandchildren, and immediate family cannot be together if they do not live in the same household.

Since March 16, 2020, Alberta’s CMOH Dr. Deena Hinshaw has pronounced 42 public health orders that have crushed constitutionally-protected rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At the heart of the case is a challenge to the constitutionality of orders issued by one person without any consultation or review by the Alberta Legislature, contrary to the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

The latest CMOH Order declares illegal the celebration of Christmas among friends and family in a private home, restricts weddings and funerals to only 10 people and completely prohibits all outdoor gatherings.

The Justice Centre will argue that the CMOH Orders violate multiple Charter-protected rights, such as the right to personal liberty, the right to visit friends andfamily at Christmas, the right to freely practice religious beliefs and the right to peacefully assemble, associate and protest. The Justice Centre will further argue that these constitutional rights violations are not justified because lockdown measures cause far more harm than any harm from COVID-19.

“The Chief Medical Officer of Health in this Province has ridden roughshod over the rights and freedoms of Albertans, even going so far as attempting to cancel Christmas and outlaw all forms of peaceful protest. It now falls to the courts to decide if one unelected doctor can prevent millions of healthy Albertans—who are at almost no risk from COVID-19—from deciding for themselves whether to celebrate Christmas with their families in their own homes,” states Justice Centre lawyer James Kitchen.

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