TORONTO: The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is assisting Robert Bristol of Kingston in fighting a ticket he received for protesting alone and masked in front of city hall.
On April 21, Mr. Bristol attended outside Kingston City Hall with an “End Lockdowns” sign to protest the province-wide lockdown. Mr. Bristol was alone, and wearing a mask. He was nevertheless approached by two Kingston municipal police officers and issued a ticket for failing to comply with the stay at home order. Mr. Bristol filmed the entire interaction.
“It’s pretty wild that we are living in a time when the government has made it illegal to protest their policies, said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn. “This is an important case for freedom of assembly and expression and the right of the public to protest against government policies. COVID does not spread easily outdoors. If the government can use this as a reason to limit protests of their policies, they could just as easily limit protests for creating other slightly risky scenarios. For example, there is a risk of public disruption and violence at many protests. We don’t want the government prohibiting the right of citizens to protest their policies based on a tiny and hypothetical risk,” continued Van Geyn.
The CCF is working with lawyer Asher Honickman in this case. “In our view, this ticket was improperly issued and the underlying order prohibiting outdoor protests is plainly unconstitutional,” said Mr. Honickman. “We will be challenging the ticket as well as the constitutionality of the stay at home order.”
A similar case was considered in British Columbia, where the courts struck down the restriction on outdoor protests as an unjustified limit on the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
Along with the legal challenge, the CCF has launched a petition demanding Doug Ford repeal the stay at home order and permit outdoor protests. You can sign the petition HERE.