January 20, 2021

Coalition judge rejects application to stay legal challenge to Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions

A Calgary judge has rejected an urgent application seeking an end to Alberta’s public health restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID – 19, including restrictions on meetings and mandatory masks.

Attorneys for a group of plaintiffs, including two southern Alberta churches and a coal gym owner, have filed a challenge in Alberta’s Queen’s Bench, arguing that the state’s Govt-19 restrictions violate their clients’ constitutional rights.

The panel had asked Judge Anne Kirker to issue a restraining order prior to the hearing on the constitutional nature of the restrictions.

Kirker, in a statement released just after 2:30 pm on Monday, said the risk of the Govt-19 spreading was real. He said he did not feel the public interest in relying on the restraint rather than the public interest until a full investigation was carried out.

Queen’s Bench Judge Anne Kirker on Monday heard arguments from applicants seeking to stay away from public health activities related to Alberta’s epidemic. (albertacourts.ca)

Dec. Required.

The province banned all outdoor and indoor community gatherings and imposed compulsory work from home for at least four weeks.

Kirker said Dr. Deena Hinsha, chief medical officer of Alberta Health, has the authority to take the necessary steps in the public health.

“Information [the applicants] Ask questions about the need for restrictions on the population of Alberta as a whole – this part of the applicants’ argument goes too far, “he said.

Government ‘Cancels Christmas’

The Calgary Law Firm and the Center for Constitutional Freedom appeared in court Monday to apply for an emergency restraining order restricting Alberta’s public health restrictions.

In the application, Heights Baptist Church in Medicine Hat and Northside Baptist Church in Calgary, along with three others, argued that their many constitutional rights had been violated, including restricting the ability of people to gather for social and religious reasons, to conduct travel or to express themselves.

The Justice Center accuses the government of “canceling Christmas” and recommends that COVID-19 not create an emergency beyond the normal morbidity and mortality limit in the province.

Lawyers for the applicants said Albertans under the age of 60 were more likely to be killed by the virus and that locking operations would be “more harmful than any harm from COVID-19”.

Roth & Company, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, said it was “bankrupting businesses and depriving the citizens of Alberta of almost all their rights under the Alberta Bill of Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedom.”

‘Critical point’ in the COVID-19 crisis

In response to the application, Attorney General Nick Parker argued that the applicants did not meet the required limit for the injunction and asked Kirker to “dismiss this application and dismiss it in its entirety.”

“The cornerstone of their argument is that somehow the tyrannical Dr. Deena Hinsha is legislating in Alberta and undermining democracy,” he said.

“I suggest that what we really see is not tyranny and illegal CMOH orders. We see democracy operating in the midst of the greatest public health crises this province has ever seen. We are at a critical juncture in that crisis.”

Parker pointed to the growing number of COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving meetings and argued that Christmas was the focal point of the crisis.

Meanwhile, doctors say they are in daily survival mode as coal intensive care units prolong the rise.

To date, 860 people have died due to COVID-19 in Alberta. As of Monday, there were 795 people in the hospital, 151 of whom are in intensive care. To date, 1,240 new cases have been reported, bringing the total to 19,165 active cases.

Dr. Deena Hinsha, Alberta’s chief medical officer, warned Friday that if Christmas proves to be “a quick factor”, Alberta could easily see more than 2,000 new cases a day within a few weeks of the holiday.

Vaccines have begun to be provided in the province, but only health workers will receive the dose before the new year.

Alberta plans to vaccinate 29,000 frontline workers By the end of December.

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