A group of concerned Nova Scotians has filed a judicial review with province's supreme court in hopes of preventing future vaccine mandates.
The Citizens Alliance of Nova Scotia (CANS) is described as a grassroots organization dedicated to informing the public about government actions, decisions and policy, and is a federally registered non-profit organization that strives to protect the human and constitutional rights and freedoms of Nova Scotians.
In October 2021, the group filed a judicial review after severely repressive actions were issued by provincial health officials in response to COVID-19, namely the harshly imposed vaccine mandate program.
The non-profit argues this mandate was unreasonable and beyond the scope of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang’s authority, who is named in the case. Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson and Nova Scotia Attorney General Brad Johns are also named as respondents.
Board members of the CANS, Sameen and Tara, elaborated on the judicial review they filed within 25 days of the order implementing vaccine mandates in their province.
“The main goals of the review are to show ultra-vires,” says Sameen, “which means that the legislator, the chief medical officer of health, acted outside of their legislated authority, which is ultra-vires. The other aspect is bad faith. We’re saying that [it was out of bad faith] in that there was prior knowledge before anything was mandated around safety and efficacy.”
This was a form of “coercion,” explained Tara. “It was using policy as a way to coerce people, extort people, into taking a jab or lose their job.”
The group further argues that Section 53 of the Nova Scotia Health Protection Act was not upheld, specifically where it states that the chief medical officer may implement special measures to mitigate or remedy a declared emergency, but that emergency must be declared by the minister of health, something they say didn’t happen.
“The declaration is done through the chief medical officer of health recommending to the minister of health to make a[n emergency] declaration... That's Section 53 of the Health Protection Act. Now, that was not done,” explains Tara.
The group has since gone back to court on January 25 in an attempt to get public interest standing, something that would allow the organization to speak on behalf of all Nova Scotians, to challenge the overreaching government actions that are part of the original judicial review.
While obtaining government records related to this case, the group was given 12,000 pages of purported evidence used by the government to declare the provincial emergency and justify the subsequent vaccine mandates.
“The record was delivered a year after it was supposed to be delivered,” says Sameen.
“There was some epidemiological data, but we kind of pulled some of those numbers out and did a spreadsheet and all it showed was that there was no visible pandemic in order to justify the orders… And you don't make a decision after reading 12,000 pages. You get somebody to collate them, summarize them, and make a recommendation. None of that was included in the record.”
Like many other COVID-19-related cases all across the county, the government has put forward a mootness motion, citing that because the restrictions are no longer in place, any arguments against them are moot — or, irrelevant — which is the next hurdle for CANS.
Tara explains that the CANS case is different than other judicial reviews in the country. “We are still alive based on, we believe, the grounds for review, which is ultra vires we mentioned before, which would be the resulting bad faith,” she explains.
To their surprise, CANS discovered that Canada’s state broadcaster, the CBC, covered their January 25 public interest standing hearing, but they were shocked by the misinformation contained in the article, which has since been corrected, including getting the section of the Health Protection Act wrong.
“Some of the other corrections [that we had to make], it was more of a narrative they wanted to push,” says Sameen.
We had to correct things like they said the judge decided to throw out public support letters, which I believe is the reason why this caught the attention of CBC because there was a public interest in this.
They misrepresented what the judge said. He did not simply throw out the letters. He asked CANS what to do with the letters and we said these are not intended to be part of evidence. Therefore, they were not part of the hearing, which was always the intent.
But the CBC article seemed to imply that it was an inappropriate move and that's why the judge decided to throw the letters out. So it was concerning the way they were trying to twist it.
The key message from CANS is the importance of an engaged citizenry. Organizations like this encourage active involvement in democratic processes to proactively participate and have a say in shaping the future.