Federal Court rules isolation hotels constitutional; chastises federal government for other breaches

OTTAWA/CALGARY: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is disappointed with the Federal Court ruling today that found mandatory quarantine hotels at traveller’s expense are constitutional. The decision will be reviewed thoroughly with a view to appeal.

The Federal Court also found, however, that the constitutional rights and freedoms of Justice Centre client, Pastor Nicole Mathis, were unjustifiably infringed by authorities failure to inform the Pastor Mathis of her right to counsel upon detention, and her and her family’s right to know the name and location of the designated quarantine facility she was being taken to.

Pastor Mathis was forced against her will on January 28 into a federal quarantine facility and detained for three nights because her negative Covid test was not accepted by Canadian Public Health officials. Calgary police officers refused to tell her worried husband, Pastor Chris Mathis, where his wife was being taken.

The Justice Centre was in Federal Court on June 1 - 3 on behalf of Pastor Mathis and ten more clients: Barbara Spencer, Sabry Belhouchet, Blain Gowing, Dennis Ward, Reid Nehring, Cindy Crane, Denise Thomson, Norman Thomson, and Michel Lafontaine, and Steven Duesing, who are challenging the government’s policy of forcing returning Canadians into federally chosen quarantine hotels and quarantine facilities at their own expense. The Justice Centre argued that these oppressive measures violated numerous Charter rights and freedoms.

Specifically the Justice Centre argued that mandatory quarantine of law abiding Canadian citizens in federally mandated facilities violated their rights to enter and leave Canada freely pursuant to their rights under S. 6(1) of the Charter, it violated their rights not to be arbitrarily detained, their right to speak to counsel upon their detention and their rights to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and the right to have their detention contested in court.

On February 14, 2021, the Federal Government issued an Order In Council forcing international Canadian air travelers to be quarantined for three days in a federally mandated hotel at their own expense, while waiting for Covid PCR test results. If individuals test negative they are allowed to go home to complete the remainder of their 14 day quarantine, however if they test positive for Covid they may be directed to further confinement at another quarantine facility, to complete the remainder of their 14 day quarantine.

The new measures took effect on February 22, 2021. To date thousands of Canadians have been detained against their will in quarantine hotels and quarantine facilities, and thousands more have received large fines for refusing to be detained.

“Never in post Charter history have law-abiding Canadians been detained en masse against their will, with no regard for the fundamental freedoms this country was founded on,” states Justice Centre Litigation Director, Jay Cameron.

“The Federal Courts finding that these heavy-handed measures are constitutional is deeply concerning. Canadians continue to wait anxiously for the courts of the land to draw boundaries around the increasingly authoritarian measures of government regarding Covid. We are reviewing the decision carefully.”

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