Date set for Federal Court to hear challenge to travel ban in September
The Federal Court has issued an Order that an action brought by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, to strike down the federal government’s mandatory Covid-19 vaccine requirements for air travellers (the “Travel Ban”), will be heard on September 19, 2022. The court's Order also consolidates four separate cases, and ordered them to be heard on an expedited basis, given the serious infringement on Canadians’ mobility rights and other Charter rights.
One Applicant is former Newfoundland Premier, The Honourable A. Brian Peckford. Mr. Peckford is the only surviving drafter and signatory to the 1982 Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, represented by Justice Centre lawyers Allison Pejovic, Eva Chipiuk, and external counsel Keith Wilson, Q.C.
In his sworn affidavit, Mr. Peckford states: “What I find perhaps the most disturbing is that the federal government has mandated a two-tiered society where one group of people has benefits while another group is disadvantaged. As a person who has chosen not to receive the new medical treatment, I am all of a sudden treated as an outcast, labelled a “racist” and “misogynist”, and as an undesirable person not fit to be seated with vaccinated people on an airplane … The Covid-19 vaccinated are allowed to travel by airplane and to see their families and the unvaccinated are not. This is not the Canada I know and love, and this type of segregation causes me utmost sadness.”
In October of 2021, the federal government announced that anyone travelling by air, train, or ship, must have taken the requisite number of Covid-19 vaccines in order to travel.
This Travel Ban has prevented approximately 6 million vaccine-free Canadians (15% of Canada’s population) from travel within Canada and prevents them from flying out of Canada.
In Mr. Peckford's court action, the Justice Centre filed evidence in March on behalf of 11 witnesses, including five expert witnesses. The evidence filed by the Justice Centre shows how the Canadians involved in the lawsuit cannot travel to help sick loved ones, cannot get to work, cannot visit family and friends, cannot access health care outside of Canada, cannot take international vacations, and cannot live ordinary lives. Expert medical evidence now filed with the court ranges from scientific evidence about Covid spread among both vaccinated and unvaccinated; risks associated with taking the new Covid vaccines; vaccine harms such as myocarditis and possible effects on fertility; and the superiority of natural immunity.
The Federal Government filed evidence in April on behalf of 16 witnesses including five experts in defence of the Travel Ban. Justice Centre lawyers are presently involved in cross examination of government witnesses in preparation for the full trial in September.
The process is ongoing and will continue until the end of June. Below is an updated schedule of the expedited Travel Ban lawsuit.
May 30 – Completion of cross-examination on Applicants’ Affidavits
June 30– Completion of cross-examination on Respondent’s Affidavits
July 20 – Service and filing of Applicants’ Records
September 2 – Service and filing of Respondent’s Record
September 19-23 – Hearing
“We are eager to have this matter heard in court. Similar Covid-19 mandate cases have been adjudicated in the United States, India, and New Zealand. Courts around the world have found that governments must respect fundamental human rights, including the right to bodily autonomy, which means individuals have the right to decide freely on what medical treatment they wish to receive," says Justice Centre lawyer Eva Chipiuk.