JCCF lawyer Hatim Kheir on landmark court victory on right to protest in Alberta

Judge Michael Dinkel ruled that a Chief Medical Officer of Health order regarding 'private social gatherings' did not include protests.

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Last week, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms lawyer Hatim Kheir secured a major court victory which saw Judge Michael Dinkel rule that a chief medical officer of health (CMOH) order under which their client, Brad Carrigan, was charged does not apply to protests.

The language in the specific CMOH order in question, which was in effect through parts of December 2020 and January 2021, discussed limitation on private social gatherings. Court proceedings did not proceed to constitutional arguments, or even into the second scheduled court date, as the judge ruled on day one that no offence had in fact been committed and that the order was incorrectly applied to protests.

While this decision pertains directly to the order from this narrow window of time, many other CMOH orders include the “private social gathering” language, and legal experts including the JCCF’s Hatim Kheir and JSS Barristers' Sarah Miller believe that this decision may have broader implication for many who were ticketed or arrested in relation to COVID-19 protests under these orders.

There are also broader considerations for several high-profile pastor arrests, including those of Pastor Tim Stephens and Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who were also charged and even faced incarceration as a result of similar health orders. If it is determined that religious gatherings are public, not private events, the precedent set by this decision may see several charges against pastors thrown out as well.

Last week, as this news broke, we were very fortunate to be joined by Sarah Miller of JSS Barristers for an update as she had been observing court proceedings. You can check out that interview here.

For this report, we spoke with Hatim Kheir about his court victory and about his perspective on the broader ramifications of this landmark decision.

We also recently shared the news of The Democracy Fund’s legal victory in challenging the Calgary’s protest injunction. If you want to learn more about those efforts, or to help out with the legal costs associated with securing that win, go to ProtestLawsuit.com.

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