Lawyers for Chris Scott are in front of a judge this morning to argue that the Alberta government restraining order against peaceful assembly be overturned.
The order outlaws promotion, attendance, and the organization of public gatherings, in public or private places, that do not conform to the ever-changing health orders in Alberta. The order names Chris Scott, the owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe, and Glen Carritt of United We Roll specifically, but it also restrains unnamed Jane and John Does.
Last Thursday, lawyers for Alberta Health Services appeared before a judge in Calgary to obtain that order preventing “illegal public gatherings” — that's the new Orwellian term the government of Alberta is using to de-normalize protests that criticize the lockdown.
The restraining order applies to every human being in Alberta, whether that person likes the pandemic lockdown or not, and it controls all of our interactions with others using the threat of incarceration as the stick to beat us into compliance. The punishment for defying the lockdown isn’t just an expensive fine anymore. Any one of us who gathers in a group of six outside, or in a group of five without masks, could land in jail for contempt of a judge’s order.
Standing too close at the park talking to your friends? Straight to jail. Seven people at your backyard BBQ? Send in the Mounties.
Worse still, the restraining order was obtained in secret. Alberta Health Services knows that Chris Scott has a lawyer through the media coverage of the case, but also because Chris’s lawyer has had several communications with AHS. AHS obtained the restraining order “ex parte,” without giving Chris's lawyer a chance to argue against it.
And the health bureaucrats are already weaponizing the restraining order to shut up their biggest critics and take away their liberty.
Since that restraining order was issued, two people have been arrested for contempt of court for exercising their Charter right of peaceful assembly. Pastor Artur Pawlowski was arrested in Calgary for holding church services that exceeded the 15 person cap on worship services, and held in jail for two days. Chris Scott was arrested and held for three days when he held a 1,500 person protest in the small town of Mirror, just days after RCMP chained the doors on his little gas station-restaurant-convenience store. Scott reopened his restaurant in defiance of the lockdown on dine-in service in January. It’s just a matter of time before Glen Carritt is picked up for exercising his free speech, too.
This cannot stand. Albertans have a right to question the decisions of the government in a peaceful way. The Alberta restraining order resembles Communist China’s national security law that was brought in to squash pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, where the right to peaceful assembly was stripped away using the excuse of public safety. It’s the kind of attack on civil liberties and human rights Premier Jason Kenney used to speak out about, but now he’s imposing those violations on innocent people in his own province.
Chad Williamson from Williamson Law and his team are arguing to have a judge rule the order was improperly obtained and have it overturned. This is a fight for the free speech and assembly rights of all Albertans, and it’s happening now. Where are the civil liberties groups to stand up to this tyranny?
To donate to support our efforts to have this secret, sneaky, un-Canadian order overturned, please donate today at www.FightTheFines.com. This battle will cost tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we think freedom is worth it.