Canada Group of Ontario police officers launches charter challenge of pandemic restrictions
NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for May 6, 2021
Players in the protocol are: Colorado's Devan Dubnyk and Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov.Calgary – TBA (previously Josh Leivo)
A group of 19 Ontario police officers has launched a constitutional challenge against the provincial and federal governments and several police chiefs, claiming that enforcing sweeping pandemic health restrictions puts them at odds with their oath to uphold the charter.
Fifteen active and four retired members of law enforcement agencies — including the Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police Service, Ottawa Police Service, Niagara Regional Police Service, Hamilton Police Service and the RCMP — are behind the civil action.
COVID protocol-related absences: 04/25
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in COVID-19 Protocol. Here is today’s list: Calgary – Josh Leivo Colorado – Joonas Donskoi, Mikko Rantanen New Jersey – P.K.Calgary – Josh Leivo
It was filed in the Superior Court of Justice against the premier, the attorneys general of Canada and Ontario, as well as five police chiefs.
The challenge has yet to be tested in court.
It seeks these declarations:
- Canada's pandemic laws "are not rational" and have "no force or effect."
- Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and curfews are "forms of martial law."
- Wearing masks, social distancing and lockdowns are "ineffective" and "not scientifically or medically based" because they're based on coronavirus cases the legal documents claim "are 96.5 per cent false."
The group also wants the court to declare that religious gatherings and protests are exempt from pandemic restrictions in Ontario.
The lawyer for the officers is Rocco Galati, executive director of the Toronto-based Constitutional Rights Centre. He didn't respond to a request for comment on Monday, but the legal challenge was detailed in a virtual news conference posted.
NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for May 8, 2021
Players in the protocol are: Colorado's Devan Dubnyk and Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov.Calgary – TBA
Officers describe rank-and-file 'divide'
"My clients are concerned to the point that they're stepping forward at their personal and reputational risk because of unwarranted, and hostile and irrational reprisals," said Galati, flanked by Toronto police Sgt. Julie Evans and York Regional Police Const. Christopher Vandenbos, who are both plaintiffs.
"Anyone who dares speak out is ostracized and attacked, even if they do so in civil and appropriate ways," said the lawyer.
Both Evans and Vandenbos spoke during the news conference of simmering tension among police officers in some municipalities who are divided on ideological lines — with those who feel pandemic enforcement measures contradict their oaths as peace officers at odds with officers who don't have that belief.
7 Manitoba churches challenging province's COVID-19 pandemic powers in court
Seven rural Manitoba churches hope to convince a judge that the province’s lockdown measures are unjustified violations of Charter-protected freedoms, in one of several cases that will pit those freedoms against the need for public safety in the pandemic.Since early on in the pandemic, indoor gatherings have been restricted in Manitoba — either banned completely or under capacity limits — and that has impacted on religious gatherings. So far, nearly 1,000 people have died in the province due to COVID-19, and Manitoba brought in tighter restrictions last week due to a rising third wave of cases.
"The divide that we're seeing is very visible," said Vandenbos.
Video: Manitoba churches take coronavirus restrictions to court (cbc.ca)
The court application says police supervisors pressure front-line officers to enforce what Galati called "blanket orders" when it comes to wearing masks, physical distancing and limits on public gatherings.
In fact, Evans and fellow Toronto police Sgt. Greg Boltyansky, also a plaintiff in the legal action, are under investigation by the city law enforcement agency's professional standards branch for allegedly attending a public gathering that contravened Ontario's Reopening Ontario Act.
The probe was opened followingin connection with a mass gathering at the Church of God at Aylmer, a southwestern Ontario congregation known for its rebellious stance against coronavirus restrictions.
Evans and Boltyansky were reportedly off duty while allegedly captured on a video taken in the church's parking lot the night of April 20. The two accused local police of failing to uphold their sworn oath to the Constitution by enforcing provincial pandemic laws.
‘Nothing will dissuade’ Ford from continuing with sports lockdown
Prepare yourself, Ontario, for two more weeks of no-sports misery. Although sports organizers — on behalf of millions of frustrated, idled, even depressed young athletes across the province — are valiantly fighting back against the Ontario government’s current ban, it’s all for naught, apparently. Postmedia has learned Premier Doug Ford’s office told tennis leaders this week it has no plans to budge from its decision early last month to prevent hundreds of thousands of Ontarians from playing their sport of choice before May 20, when province-wide emergency lockdown measures are scheduled to expire.
"Many of these police officers that take it unto themselves to barricade and put an army line between a church and the street and in fact walk into churches unannounced, without a search warrant, onto private property restricting parishioners are breaching 176 of the Criminal Code," Galati said, referring to the section that says stopping or interfering with a religious gathering is a crime.
"Why? Because they're taking their cues from the moron politicians and supervisors."
Challenge argues restrictions are too broad
Galati said officer discretion is being undermined, subverted, and in some cases removed by politicians and police supervisors who require front-line officers to enforce pandemic restrictions that are too vague and broad, especially when it comes to in-person social gatherings, communal prayer or protests.
"How do you ascertain the gathering is social? How do you ascertain numbers without calculating space?
"You got people like Doug Ford who talk out of their side and mistake the regulations," he said about the premier. "Then you get a lot of police officers who are getting their cues, not from reading the regulations, unfortunately, but actually from the politicians and supervisors who bring down the law as they see it."
COVID-19: Ontario reports 3,265 new cases; Child-care workers, hot spot residents 45+ added to vaccination rolls
Ontario reported 3,265 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and 29 new deaths. Toronto, with 1,044 new cases, Peel, with 673, and York, with 452, remained the province’s worst-hit regions. Durham reported 171 new cases There were 150 new confirmed cases in Ottawa, according to Public Health Ontario, bringing the city’s total to 23,621 since the pandemic’s start. Due to varying data collection times, that number may not match figures released later in the day by Ottawa Public Health. The number of confirmed variant cases in Ottawa was 2,807 confirmed B.1.1.7 (which originated in the UK) cases and seven B.1.351 (which originated in South Africa) ones.
The legal challenge comes two weeks after the Ontario government extended and expanded its pandemic stay-at-home order to curb rising case numbers and hospitalizations.
The order included sweeping new police powers that the province walked back after a backlash from police who refused to stop people randomly to ask if trips outside their homes were essential.
While police have checked their own power in certain cases, Galati, said there have been reports of officers going too far. In Calgary,skating on a community rink; in Montreal, in a suburban park, he cited as examples.
Both instances were captured on video and shared widely on social media.
"They're abusing their authority," said Galati of the two incidents. "They're beating up on citizens."
Ontario served with notice of action, AG says
No date has been set for when the constitutional case may go to court, and it's unclear whether a judge will allow it to proceed.
On Monday, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General told CBC News that the province was served with a notice of application on April 29, and it's reviewing it and "will respond in due course."
"As this matter is subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further," a ministry spokesperson said in an email.
This marks the second time in a year Galati has represented clients filing a constitutional challenge of government pandemic responses.
In August last year, he announced an action by Vaccine Choice Canada, against the governments of Canada and Ontario, the City of Toronto, senior politicians, a number of Ontario health authorities, health officials and the CBC over.
France wants tougher punishment for those who attack police .
PARIS (AP) — “Dead or Alive.” The chilling words were scrawled on photos of three police officers in their uniforms posted last month on a wall in a Grenoble suburb, in southwest France. To French police, this is just one more sign of an upsurge in violence specifically targeting police that is making it harder for them to keep France safe. A police officer was shot to death last week in the historic district of the southern city of Avignon, a summer tourist mecca. The murder in broad daylight struck a chord among the French, with thousands of people joining police to pay homage Sunday to the 36-year-old officer, Eric Masson, at Avignon police headquarters.