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Legal action filed against Saskatchewan’s ban on outdoor protests with more than 10 people

SASKATOON: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a constitutional challenge in the Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench on behalf of two anti-lockdown protesters who were ticketed for attending peaceful outdoor protests that exceeded Saskatchewan’s 10-person outdoor gathering limit.

On December 19, 2020, these individuals participated in a peaceful protest at the Vimy Memorial in Kiwanis Park in Saskatoon, against the Government’s lockdown measures.

Jasmin Grandel, a young mother, attended to share her concern with the lack of transparency regarding the information on which Government requirements and restrictions are based, including the requirement that her son must wear a mask in kindergarten.

Darrell Mills, who is certified in Mask Fit Testing and trained in supplied air breathing systems, attended to voice his concerns about improper mask usage and the significant burdens placed on persons with physical or psychological conditions which prevent them from wearing masks.

For peacefully protesting and publicly expressing their opinions, Ms. Grandel and Mr. Mills were each issued $2800 fines.

Ms. Grandel and Mr. Mills are two of several individuals who have received tickets for peacefully protesting government restrictions. Saskatchewan police services have made a point to issue news releases about the tickets issued to anti-lockdown protestors. Meanwhile, numerous protests on other issues occurred in Saskatchewan during the course of Covid, and there is no indication that individuals protesting on these other issues have been issued any tickets.

Regina Police have issued tickets to Ms. Grandel for nearly every protest she has attended in Regina, including protests with as few as 20 people in attendance. Ironically, Regina Police Chief Evan Bray showed up personally on June 5, 2020, to speak at a large anti-racism rally, attended by hundreds of people and many other police officers. At the time, the 10-person limit for outdoor gatherings was fully in effect.

The Justice Centre alleges in the filed court document that prohibiting outdoor protests in excess of 10 people violates the freedoms of thought, belief, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The legal action asserts that prohibiting outdoor protests in excess of 10 people is not justified. While hundreds of people are permitted to gather in indoor facilities to shop or dine, only 10 people are permitted to gather outdoors, regardless of physical distancing or the size of the public space utilized. Further, Dr. Shahab himself has stated that outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings.

“Prohibiting outdoor protests in excess of 10 persons strikes at the heart of activities central to the functioning of a free and democratic society, with little if any corresponding public health benefit,” states Marty Moore, Staff Lawyer with the Justice Centre. “This unconstitutional limitation is further being enforced in a discriminatory and arbitrary manner targeting those expressing their opposition to the government’s lockdown measures. The unjustified infringement of Canadians’ constitutional freedoms cannot go unchallenged.”

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