A judge in Calgary has denied an application to have Alberta Health Services’ anti-free speech restraining order overturned. But the fight is just getting started, because now Fight The Fines lawyers are going to examine Alberta’s chief medical officer, Deena Hinshaw, in court.
Thursday morning, Chad Williamson of Williamson Law argued to have the injunction that prohibits his clients, Glen Carritt, Chris Scott and unnamed Jane and John Does, from participating in, organizing, or promoting “illegal public gatherings” that do not comply with the current restrictions: limiting such activities to five (or fewer) participants, masking and social distancing.
In essence, the order outlaws political protests of half a dozen or more outdoors, but could also see grandma end up in the slammer for contempt of court if she is the sixth person at a birthday party in the park.
The original order was obtained in secret after lawyers for AHS refused to inform Williamson Law of the order being sought against their clients.
The order restricts the interactions, free speech and free association of all Albertans and it does that under threat of imprisonment.
Two arrests have already occurred under the new court order.
One was Chris Scott of the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror. He was arrested after he holding a protest of 1,500 people adjacent to his property seized just days before by the province because he refused to abide by the lockdown on restaurants. He spent three days in jail.
Pastor Artur Pawlowski spent two days in jail after he was arrested in Calgary for holding a non-compliant church service.
Associate Chief Justice Rooke heard arguments but declined to stay the order, however he did agree to a full hearing on the matter — including a full examination of the decision makers who deemed the excessively broad court order necessary, like CMOH Deena Hinshaw and the AHS health inspector behind the constant visits to the Whistle Stop Cafe since Chris Scott made the decision to re-open in January.
We are going to fight to overturn this order like freedom and democracy depend on it. Because they do.
It's going to be a lot of hard work, and it's going to be expensive, but it's worth it, because it is the right of every Albertan to criticize the government.
Through this process, we will be able to hold the decision makers to account and make them explain to a judge why they've done what they've done during this pandemic — to small businesses, to churches, to all of us.
If you'd like to help us continue this fight in court to make the government answer for their restraining order on the rights of innocent Albertans, please donate today at www.FightTheFines.com.
All donations there now qualify for a charitable tax receipt through The Democracy Fund, a registered charity that works to advance and defend the civil liberties of Canadians.