Crown Drops Covid Charge Against BC Pastor who Opened his Church for Prayer and Reflection

Crown Drops Covid Charge Against BC Pastor who Opened his Church for Prayer and Reflection

Posted On: November 16, 2022

Creston, BC: The Justice Centre is pleased that the Crown has dropped the charge against Pastor David Ripley of Grace Christian Fellowship, who was personally ticketed for allegedly violating a provincial health order.

The Provincial Health Orders issued by Dr. Bonnie Henry during the final months of 2020 prohibited in-person worship services – entirely. In carefully reading the document, Pastor Ripley found a particular clause allowing people to attend houses of worship for prayer and reflection. The local public authorities he called, including the Mayor, the fire chief and the RCMP, confirmed his understanding that the Provincial Health Order permitted him to open his church for prayer and reflection. So Pastor Ripley opened up the church on Sunday mornings, roped off pews to ensure physical distancing and complied with the public health guidance. There was no singing, no preaching. The people who came prayed and read Scriptures.

On January 3, 2021, as a small number of individuals attended Grace Christian Fellowship for prayer and reflection, two RCMP cruisers pulled up on the property. The Pastor’s wife Gina showed them the Order permitting attendance at houses of worship for prayer and reflection. The officers took issue with the number of cars in the parking lot, but otherwise did not challenge the language of the Order or the actions of the church.

Later that day, however, RCMP officers arrived at the Ripleys’ residence and issued Pastor Ripley a ticket, fining him $2,300 for allegedly violating the Provincial Health Order.

After more than a dozen preliminary court appearances by Justice Centre lawyers on behalf of Pastor Ripley, and the filing of a Notice of Constitutional Question challenging the constitutionality of Dr. Henry’s Order, the first phase of the trial to determine whether Pastor Ripley violated the Order was set to run on November 22-23, 2022, at the Creston Law Courts.

On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, the Crown directed a stay of proceedings on the charges against Pastor Ripley.

“The unjustified intrusions of government into the homes and churches of Canadians in the name of Covid enforcement is a stain on Canada’s free and democratic society,” states Justice Centre Lawyer Marty Moore. “Pastor Ripley was attempting to follow public health orders and serve the needs of his congregation. There was no justification for forcing him through nearly two years of court appearances and legal processes. He is relieved to have this behind him.”

Crown drops Covid charges against Derek Sloan, Randy Hillier, and other protestors

[The charges derailed Randy Hillier’s political career. He did not seek re-election. Sure, the charges are dropped, but the threat hung over him and the others for months. The charges and the long delay in dropping them were an ABUSE OF PROCESS, part of the State’s efforts to derail and smash pro-freedom dissent. — Paul Fromm]

Crown drops Covid charges against Derek Sloan, Randy Hillier, and other protestors

Posted On: September 26, 2022

NORFOLK, ONTARIO: The Justice Centre is pleased to announce that the Crown has dropped charges against former MPP Randy Hiller, former MP Derek Sloan, Pastor Heinrich Hildebrandt, and private citizen, Dan Stasko. The four men were allegedly involved in peaceful rallies against Covid measures in June 2021 and were charged with violating public health orders under the Reopening Ontario Act. After negotiations with

After negotiations with Bally Hundal, a lawyer retained by the Justice Centre, the Crown dropped all charges, stating that prosecution was no longer in the public interest.

Ontario has implemented lockdowns since the beginning of the pandemic and placed significant restrictions on the right to peaceful protest. In June 2021, the four men were charged for participating in a peaceful demonstration in Norfolk, Ontario. There were approximately 200-300 people at this outdoor demonstration against the Covid measures implemented by the Ontario government.

Mr. Hillier, Mr. Sloan, Pastor Hildebrandt and Mr. Stasko were concerned with the Covid restrictions – health orders which significantly curtailed the right to peaceful protest. For exercising their Charter rights to assemble peacefully and protest the government measures, they were charged with offences carrying potential fines of $100,000 to each individual as well as up to one year in prison.

“Peaceful demonstration is an essential pillar of a democratic society,” says Justice Centre lawyer Henna Parmar. “Citizens have the right to make their opinions known. We are pleased in this case to hear that the Crown will not proceed with prosecuting citizens who spoke out against harsh government lockdowns.”

Two-week trial underway today in Saskatoon against Maxime Bernier and the Saskatchewan 23 for peaceful protests


Two-week trial underway today in Saskatoon against Maxime Bernier and dozens of other protestors for peaceful protests

Posted On: September 12, 2022

SASKATOON: The Justice Centre announces that the trial of the Honourable Maxime Bernier, leader of the Federal People’s Party of Canada, and dozens of other protestors charged for attending an anti-lockdown rally in Saskatoon on May 9, 2021, started today in Saskatoon.

The trial is being held in Centennial Room ‘B’ at TCU Place, 35 22nd Street East, Saskatoon, and is scheduled to run for two weeks.

On May 9, 2021, a peaceful outdoor protest against government violations of Canadians’ constitutional rights and freedoms was held near the Vimy Memorial in Kiwanis Park. The Saskatoon Police Service aggressively targeted the protestors by posting images of many of them online, and subsequently issuing dozens of summons tickets, each with a $2800 fine. Later, Saskatchewan prosecutors also issued charges via Criminal Code Information against 46 individuals.

Justice Centre lawyers represent 23 of the defendants at this trial, including Mr. Bernier, a Saskatchewan freedom advocate Mark Friesen (known as the Grizzly Patriot), and Darrell Mills.  On behalf of Mr. Mills and a young mother who attended outdoor protests, Justice Centre lawyers argued a constitutional challenge in the Court of Queen’s Bench (now King’s Bench) to the Saskatchewan government’s strict restrictions on outdoor protests on June 29, 2022.  The Court’s decision in that matter is pending.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan prosecutors are continuing to pursue charges against individuals who attended even small anti-lockdown protests.  No charges were issued to people who participated in protests for other causes that exceeded the 10 to 30 person limits the Saskatchewan Government imposed on outdoor gatherings.  In the next six months, Justice Centre lawyers are scheduled to defend protestors in more than a dozen other trials scheduled in Provincial Courts in Saskatchewan.

“There is no legal or medical justification for the strict numerical restrictions imposed on outdoor protests in Saskatchewan,” states Marty Moore, a lawyer with the Justice Centre.  “Yet, an incredible amount of public resources, including prosecution and court time, has been committed to prosecuting protestors. The targeting of these protestors is not on the basis that their protests were a health risk, but rather because they expressed opposition to the government’s unjustified restrictions on Canadians’ constitutional rights and freedoms. Not a single transmission of Covid has been associated with an outdoor protest in Saskatchewan, and yet the government continues to go after protestors for exercising their constitutionally-protected freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.”

How the Justice Centre Defends the Truckers & Opposes Police State Emergencies Act

Justice Centre Statement on Convoy Funding

Posted On: September 7, 2022

The Justice Centre is a registered charity committed to defending the constitutional rights of Canadians.

Canadians and truckers from across the country made their way to Ottawa in January, to exercise their right to peaceful protest against government mandates. This was a grassroots movement that resulted in the largest peaceful protest in Canadian history. The Government responded by invoking the Emergencies Act, bringing in armed police, and using unprecedented power and violence to end an otherwise peaceful protest. The government also froze bank accounts of Canadians who supported the protestors.

In February 2022, the Justice Centre funded a team of lawyers to provide legal advice and representation to peaceful Canadian protestors in Ottawa. Justice Centre lawyers facilitated communications with police and played a role in coordinating an agreement with the City of Ottawa to move trucks out of residential areas.

Since February, the Justice Centre has continued to provide legal representation, through its own lawyers as well as outside counsel, to:

  • Approximately 50 Canadians who have been criminally charged when their sole “crime” was to exercise their constitutional rights to assemble peacefully in Ottawa and express their opposition to government lockdowns and vaccine mandates;
  • Truckers and other Canadians who have been named defendants in a $305-million class action lawsuit brought against them in Ontario Superior Court;
  • Canadians who are challenging the abuse of the Emergencies Act in Federal Court, seeking a declaration that the government did not have reasonable grounds to do so and in fact, abused these unprecedented powers;
  • Freedom Convoy participants who have standing to participate in the Public Order Emergency Commission and will provide factual accounts of the events that occurred during the protest in Ottawa in February 2022.

The Justice Centre is also an official party before the Public Order Emergency Commission and has been granted standing to provide policy recommendations to the Commission about the constitutional implications of invoking the Emergencies Act.

The Justice Centre has also funded the criminal defence of Tamara Lich, a Medicine Hat mother and grandmother, who has been subjected to five bail reviews, and was arrested on a Canada-wide warrant, for an alleged, minor bail breach.

Ms. Lich, who was not charged with a violent crime, spent a total of seven weeks in jail, in spite of not having any criminal record.

In addition to the cases which relate directly to legal matters resulting from events in Ottawa in February 2022, the Justice Centre continues to fund hundreds of cases across Canada where the Charter rights and fundamental freedoms of Canadians are threatened by government.

It is through the voluntary donations of our valued and dedicated supporters that it is possible for the Justice Centre to defend the free society and continue to challenge oppressive government actions that began in earnest more than two years ago. We receive no government funding.

While the Justice Centre’s funding capacity is not unlimited, the Justice Centre helps as many individuals as possible through our network of lawyers and dedicated staff and will continue to do so to the full extent our resources allow.

Canadians who have access to funds and can contribute to their legal costs are encouraged to do so, because the Justice Centre can only take a small percentage of the thousands of requests for help we receive each year. The matters the Justice Centre is involved with affect all Canadians in the common goal of living in a free and democratic society, where government is transparent and accountable to its citizens. We want to thank all our supporters for their continued commitment to our important work.

Powerful video. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms presents: “The Convoy that United the Country”

Powerful video. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms presents: “The Convoy that United the Country”, which premiered at the 2022 George Jonas Freedom Award dinner honouring Tamara Lich.

Hear Dr Stephen Malthouse in Kelowna, Watch “The Convoy that United the Country & Scared Trudeau” & Uninformed Consent & Attend Freedom Rallies This Weekend in the Okanagan — Kelowna, Penticton, OK City, Oliver & Osoyoos

Headlining this weekend.

1.  First: Dr Stephen Malthouse speaking at the C.L.E.A.R. Rally in Kelowna, Stuart Park at noon.

CarPool from Main and Warren – Meet at 10:30, leave by 10:45 a.m. Deck your cars with flags!

Then head on over to the Sandman Hotel, 2130 Harvey Avenue for the 2:30 showing of…

2.  “Uninformed Consent”, the movie.

     PLUS Dr Stephen Malthouse and Todd Harris Q&A LIVE!

Scroll down for more details.


Then Sunday…


   This Sunday, Aug 21st – 1 to 3 p.m. Corner of Main and Warren, Penticton.


Important updates, open mike, cold drinks, August Druthers, and free hugs.  Miss a week and you miss a lot. Bring friends. ——————————- o0o————————————- Quick list of other events this weekend and next week (as we currently know them).   1.     Penticton Rallies and Events – below and at 2.     Other Okanagan Rallies and Events – below and at 3.     Canada Wide Initiatives – See below for links and instructions 4.     Screening of the new Canadian documentary Uninformed Consent in Kelowna on Saturday, August 20th See Below 5.     Rallies at Richard Cannings’ office – Tuesdays at noon. Meet at his office at 301 Main Street (Nanaimo Square). We will bring the new brochure ”What is Informed Consent” to pass out this coming Tuesday.  

——————————- o0o————————————-

Also going on in the beautiful Okanagan…

Saturday Rallies

            Osoyoos 10:30 am

Oliver 12 noon

            Kelowna 12 noon – Stuart Park – Dr. Stephen Malthouse speaking August 20

                        Carpooling from Penticton for Kelowna– Meet at the corner of Main and Warren @ 10:30 am

——————————- o0o————————————- Actions and Items of Interest “Uninformed Consent” – the Movie – Kelowna The screening of the new Canadian documentary Uninformed Consent in Kelowna on Saturday, August 20th. The screening will be followed by a Q & A with Dr. Stephen Malthouse and Todd Harris, director of Uninformed Consent. Location:  Sandman Hotel 2130 Harvey Kelowna Time: Doors open at: 2:00 PM Screening: 2:30 – 4:30 PM Q & A: 4:30 – 5:30 PM FILM SYNOPSIS: An in-depth look into the Covid 19 narrative, who’s controlling it and how it’s being used to inject an untested, new technology, into almost every person on the planet. This film explores our recent loss of human rights while weaving in the devastating impact of mandates and the deeply powerful story of one man’s loss. Trailer 1 Trailer 2 Trailer 3 More details about the documentary can be found at: ——————————- o0o————————————-

Nurturing Our Warriors – Stress Management

If you were not able to join the first session of an ongoing series on stress management here is the link

Our second zoom meeting will be held on August 25th at 6:00 PM (PST) Each session includes demonstrated techniques for managing stress on a day-to-day basis, as well as introductions to freedom-friendly practitioners who are there to help you individually. Watch for the link in our next email or by checking in on our Events page on the 23rd.

——————————- o0o————————————-

VCC LIVE WEDNESDAYS  – Wed, Sep 7, 8:30 pm ET, 5:30 pm Pacific Time – Parents with Questions

Parents with Questions will resume on Sept 7 as a monthly event that takes place on the first Wednesday of each month whereby, we invite parents to ask their questions. This initiative is a collaboration with Canada Health Alliance, Canadian Frontline Nurses, and Vaccine Choice Canada. Bring your questions about childhood illness, vaccines, health, and wellness. Our goal is to help young parents and parents-to-be navigate the mixed messages about health and childhood vaccines.   Register here –

——————————- o0o————————————-

Save the date!!

September 11th Candlelight Vigil at Dusk

Details to follow in upcoming emails and at our rallies. A Vigil to support those who have suffered harm during the COVID-19 Plandemic.

(Note: Mary Lou had announced August 27 as the date for this event at last Sunday’s rally, but with further discussion, a decision was made to take advantage of an important date in history and in the every-day consciousness of people around the world.)

——————————- o0o————————————-

The Convoy That United the Country (and terrified Trudeau) A Very Moving Video

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms presents The Convoy that United the Country, which premiered at the 2022 George Jonas Freedom Award dinner honouring Tamara Lich. (Ctrl+Click) WATCH HERE 

——————————- o0o————————————-

Remember that Freedom Hugs are available at ALL our events!

Let’s make this week AMAZING!!

Mary Lou Gutscher


Justice Centre Files Action against school board that expelled teacher criticizing age-appropriateness of LGBTQ books

Action filed against school board that expelled teacher criticizing age-appropriateness of classroom books

Posted On: June 20, 2022

HAMILTON – The Justice Centre announced today that legal action is being taken against the Waterloo Region District School Board on behalf of Carolyn Burjoski. Ms. Burjoski, a former elementary school teacher, was expelled from a school board meeting after she objected to Board decisions to ban library books deemed “harmful,” and include books on sexuality as part of the curriculum for all elementary students. Ms. Burjoski attended the meeting, open to the public, on January 17, 2022, and attempted to make a 10-minute presentation to express her views, emphasizing that the proposed sex-ed materials would sexualize children and downplay the risks of medical sex transition.

Ms. Burjoski’s presentation included a passage from a book called Rick, by Alex Gino, about a young boy whose friend talks about naked girls all the time. The boy decides that there must be something wrong with him because he has no sexual feelings, so he declares his “asexual identity.” The presentation also showed a passage from a book entitled The Other Boy, by M.G. Hennessy, which deals with a girl who identifies as a boy and takes puberty blockers and testosterone as part of a medical sex transition. Ms. Burjoski commented that some of the books “make it seem simple or even cool to take puberty blockers and opposite sex hormones.”

Ms. Burjoski’s presentation was cut off after four minutes by Chairperson Scott Piatkowski, who alleged that it violated the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Board voted to uphold Mr. Piatowski’s decision, and Ms. Burjoski was expelled from the meeting.

According to Jorge Pineda, a lawyer for the Justice Centre, “Ms. Burjoski is a former teacher with sincere concerns about the appropriateness of the sexual content being shared with elementary school-aged children in Waterloo Region schools. The Board’s decision to silence her not only deprives her of her right to freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but also deprives the public of hearing an informed dissenting voice on an issue that affects their children”

“The Supreme Court has described the free exchange of ideas as ‘the very lifeblood of democracy’. It’s difficult to imagine how a free society can properly function without vigorously protecting free expression, particularly expression that is deemed offensive or unpopular,” adds Mr. Pineda. “The Board’s decision to silence Ms. Burjoski, based on the false claim that her views violate the Human Rights Code, demonstrates a serious lack of understanding and respect for basic democratic principles and cannot go unchallenged.”

Justice Centre lawyers will argue in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that the decision to muzzle Ms. Burjoski was a violation of her Charter right to freedom of expression.

Add title

A Vindictive Crown Thwarted in Attempt to Revoke Tamara Lich’s Bail for Accepting Free Speech Award

A Vindictive Crown Thwarted in Attempt to Revoke Tamara Lich’s Bail for Accepting Free Speech Award

Chalk up a small but important victory for free speech. Bail is supposed to help ensure that the accused will appear for trial and will not commit the alleged offence prior to trial. All too often in Canada, it is used as a way to gag a dissident prior to trial, which might be many months away. After initially being denied bail for a non-violent offence (counselling  mischief), Lich was granted bail in March, but on condition that she leave Ontario (be out of Dodge by sunset) and not access social media. When the Crown learned she was to receive the George Jonas Freedom Award from the Justice Centre for Constitutional  Freedom, it was outraged. Canada’s increasingly politicized justice system was furious that a person they\d condemned to be a pariah and non-person was to receive a public honour and award. They sought to have her thrown back in prison — but we support democracy in the Ukraine, right? Her lawyers sought to amend her bail conditions. Today, Tamara Lich escaped prison and has some of her freedoms back. Nevertheless, she still is gagged and banned from the social media.

Paul Fromm


Canadian Association for Free Expression

‘The courts are not a thought police,’ judge says in Tamara Lich bail review decision

The ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizer is again allowed to enter Ontario, but remains restricted from using social media. Author of the article: Aedan Helmer Publishing date:

A judge's ruling has kept in place a ban on Tamara Lich using social media while she awaits trial.
A judge’s ruling has kept in place a ban on Tamara Lich using social media while she awaits trial. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

Tamara Lich will not be sent back to jail as a judge lifted her ban from entering Ontario, but ruled to reinforce her ban from social media in a bail review decision Wednesday.

“The courts are not a thought police,” Superior Court Justice Kevin Phillips said as he rejected the Crown’s arguments that Lich should have her bail revoked over alleged breaches of her release conditions.

“We seek only to control conduct to the extent that certain behaviour will violate, or likely lead to violation of the law,” the judge continued. “Here, the objective was to keep a highly problematic street protest from reviving or reoccurring … No court would ever seek to control the possession or manifestation of political views.”

The Crown had argued that Lich breached the condition that bars her from supporting “anything related” to the “Freedom Convoy” when she accepted the 2022 “George Jonas Freedom Award,” which she is set to receive in a June 16 gala in Toronto hosted by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Lawrence Greenspon, Lich’s lawyer, said the judge’s ruling would allow his client to travel to Toronto to accept the award in person, and he confirmed she also intended to attend similar gala events in Calgary and Vancouver, where VIP tickets cost $500.

In a phone interview following the decision, Greenspon applauded the judge for “soundly rejecting” the Crown’s efforts to send Lich back to jail.

“From our perspective, this was a clear rejection of the Crown’s attempt to reincarcerate Ms. Lich for agreeing to accept a ‘freedom award,’ and, in light of this decision, she’s going to be able to go to Toronto and accept that award without fear of being reincarcerated.

“That’s a great relief to her,” Greenspon said. “This effort to reincarcerate her … the battle of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly … that battle will be fought at trial.”

The JCCF, a vocal supporter of the demonstration, issued a statement following the decision saying the revised bail conditions “still excessively restrict” Lich’s Charter rights, while saying the Crown went to “troubling” lengths to revoke her bail.

Phillips also lifted Lich’s ban from entering Ontario in his revised bail plan and lifted her ban on entering the city of Ottawa, except for the geographical boundaries of the city’s downtown core.

A publication ban protects the reason Lich is seeking permission to return to Ottawa, and Phillips said he saw no issue with Lich attending a gala in Toronto months after the convoy had ended.

“The right between attendance at that function and problematic support for a demonstration that will, by then, have been long over, is so indirect as to be barely perceptible,” Phillips said.

He decided to uphold Lich’s ban from social media, however, ruling the original March 7 court order was “warranted and appropriate.”

“In a very real way, social media undoubtedly contributed to, and even drove the now-impugned conduct, and Ms. Lich staying away from it is necessary to lower the risk of reoffence to an acceptable level,” Phillips ruled.

“Social media can be a problematic feedback loop where people get egged-on and caught up by group activity they would never perform on their own,” Phillips intoned.

He warned Lich to avoid the temptation posed by social media and cited her “susceptibility to getting caught up in the sort of toxic groupthink that animated the crowd back in February.”

Lich was arrested Feb. 17 and is jointly charged with fellow protest organizer Chris Barber with mischief, obstructing police, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation.

She was initially denied bail on Feb. 22, though that decision was overturned by Superior Court Justice John Johnston on March 7 and Lich was released from jail with a list of conditions. She was ordered to return home to Medicine Hat, Alta., where she must live under the supervision of a court-approved surety, and she is barred from contacting a list of fellow protest organizers. She remains banned from social media and cannot allow anyone to post on her behalf.

Assistant Crown Attorney Moiz Karimjee presented arguments during last week’s two-day bail review alleging Lich had broken two of her release conditions, first by accepting the “freedom award” and again by accepting a convoy-themed pendant as a gift from a supporter, who then posted a photo of Lich proudly wearing the necklace. The social media post identified Lich as the “brand ambassador” for the pendant.

Phillips on Wednesday said the Crown failed to prove those breaches.

The judge accepted Lich’s testimony that she saw no “live connection” between accepting the pendant — or accepting the award — and her support for the “Freedom Convoy.”

“I believe Ms. Lich when she says she does not see her acceptance of this award to be any sort of support for the ‘Freedom Convoy,’ because that initiative is over with,” the judge said. “I specifically reject the idea that she is responsible for what someone else did with a photo of her wearing a pendant.”

Lich has lived in her community for a “meaningful stretch” and demonstrated she can follow bail conditions, the judge said.

The Charter has not stopped Canada’s slide toward tyranny — John Carpay, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

The Charter has not stopped Canada’s slide toward tyranny

Posted On: April 13, 2022

John Carpay, The Post Millennial

April 17, 2022, will mark the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms becoming part of Canada’s Constitution. The Charter reduced the sovereignty of Parliament by giving judges far more power to strike down laws as unconstitutional.

Prior to 1982, courts could strike down federal laws for violating provincial jurisdiction, and strike down provincial laws for violating federal jurisdiction. But apart from enforcing the proper division of powers between two levels of government, court rulings that invalidated legislation were exceedingly rare. Prior to 1982, Canadians who disagreed with a law essentially had only one recourse: using the democratic process to change or repeal the law which they deemed to be bad. With the Charter, Canadians could, in addition to using the democratic process, try their luck at challenging a law in court, by arguing that the law violated one or more of the fundamental freedoms of conscience, religion, expression, association and peaceful assembly, or other Charter rights and freedoms.

It all sounds wonderful, of course. But section 1 of the Charter has proven repeatedly to be a rotting fly in the ointment of the intended civil liberties medicine. Section 1 permits politicians to trample on Canadians’ Charter rights as long as the government’s lawyers can concoct a justification which will thereafter persuade a court that the violation was “reasonable” in a free and democratic society. As the Judicial Freedom Index makes clear, some judges trust politicians and admire governments a great deal, while other judges are more sympathetic to individual freedom.

Canadians who assert their Charter rights will typically have to wait for years before a court rules on whether the government’s violation is “reasonable.” Long waits are caused primarily by Canada having too few courts and too few judges. During the years that it takes to litigate a case, governments typically continue on their merry way of violating citizens’ rights and freedoms. Armed with easy access to billions of tax dollars, governments lack the incentive to obtain rulings quickly. The shortage of judges and courtrooms further enables governments to delay a speedy resolution of Charter claims. Justice delayed is justice denied.

All constitutions claim to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens.

The 1977 Constitution of the Soviet Union is only one example. As a workers’ paradise, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was so wonderful that the communists made it illegal to leave and move to another country. Article 50 guaranteed citizens “freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly, meetings, street processions and demonstrations.” Article 51 enshrined “the right to associate in public organizations that promote their political activity and initiative and satisfaction of their various interests.”

Article 52 guaranteed “freedom of conscience, that is, the right to profess or not to profess any religion, and to conduct religious worship or atheistic propaganda.” Article 55 guaranteed the inviolability of the home: “No one may, without lawful grounds, enter a home against the will of those residing in it.” Article 56 exalted “the privacy of citizens, and of their correspondence, telephone conversations, and telegraphic communications” while article 57 declared that “citizens of the USSR have the right to protection by the courts against encroachments on their honour and reputation, life and health, and personal freedom and property.”

It all sounds wonderful, of course. But the Soviet Constitution severely limited citizens’ rights “in accordance with the aims of building communism” (Article 51).

The Constitution explained that the citizen of the classless communist society must be “moulded.” Article 39 specified: “Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interests of society or the state” as determined by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Article 6).

The utopian goal of communism and the utopian goal of a world with no Covid: both ideologies have been used to trample human rights and constitutional freedoms into the ground.

Canada’s federal and provincial politicians should be embarrassed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Charter on April 17. No provincial premier has actually apologized for the repeated and flagrant violations, since March of 2020, of citizens’ freedoms to move, travel, associate, assemble, worship, and exercise control of their own bodies by deciding what medical treatments they will or will not receive. Federally, Parliament’s Liberal-NDP majority imposes unscientific discrimination against the “misogynist, anti-science, racist, extremists” who have not received two Covid shots, in spite of the fact that vaccinated Canadians get the virus and spread the virus.

Our Charter at 40 has not prevented us from moving rapidly towards a tyrannical system in which Canadians are slaves of the state. More and more, Canadians are managed and controlled by politicians and bureaucrats in ways similar to how farm animals are managed and controlled by the farmer. Ultimately, Canada’s survival as a free society that respects the dignity of every human being depends not on the Charter or on how courts interpret it, but on the extent to which Canadians truly cherish our freedoms, and are willing to suffer and sacrifice for them.

The charter that defends rights, but also tells government how to quash them

The charter that defends rights, but also tells government how to quash them

Not everyone is inclined to cheer the charter as a bulwark of liberty. ‘We are less free today than 40 years ago,”’ said John Carpay, president of the JCCF Author of the article: Tristin Hopper Publishing date: Apr 15, 2022  •  April 15, 2022  •  7 minute read  •  91 Comments

The notwithstanding clause is how provincial governments can consistently maintain legislation, such as Quebec's Bill 21, that are a pretty obvious curb on fundamental freedoms.
The notwithstanding clause is how provincial governments can consistently maintain legislation, such as Quebec’s Bill 21, that are a pretty obvious curb on fundamental freedoms. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia/File

The decision was a surprise to Canadians, where any number of similar challenges had failed.

Time after time during the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian governments imposed extraordinary public health measures that seemed to be naked infringements on Canadians’ charter rights. Mandated church closures that violated protections on “freedom of religion.” Bans on gatherings that curbed “freedom of association.” Border and travel strictures that undermined charter guarantees on mobility rights.

But the courts didn’t care. Whenever a pandemic case hit the docket, courts “erred too far on the side of deferring to government,” Joanna Baron, the executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, told the National Post.

Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of Canada repatriating its constitution, a process that included passage of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The charter has often been praised as one of Canada’s leading modern accomplishments and its “gift to the world.” But it’s also one of the world’s only constitutions that explicitly gives the state a roadmap on how to quash the very “fundamental freedoms” it cites. It’s why, four decades in, not everyone is inclined to cheer it as a bulwark of liberty.

“I cannot think of any freedom … that the charter has brought to us,” said John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a group that has been particularly active in challenging pandemic mandates and defending the organizers of Freedom Convoy. “We are less free today than 40 years ago,” he said.

If governments are looking to do an end-run around charter-enumerated rights, there are two primary sections of the document they turn to. Section 1, which is literally the first line of text in the charter, explicitly states that rights and freedoms are protected in Canada only to “reasonable limits.”

According to an official government of Canada guide to the charter, the purpose of this section is to remind Canadians that “rights can be limited by law so long as those limits can be shown to be reasonable in a free and democratic society.”

The notwithstanding clause allows provincial governments to knowingly pass legislation that treads on a fundamental freedom.

If such a legislative override had existed in the U.S. Constitution, many of the most iconic Supreme Court decisions of the civil rights movement might not have mattered. Brown vs. Board of Education — the 1954 decision that struck down school segregation — could simply have been ignored by states invoking the notwithstanding clause.

In Quebec, it’s how provincial governments can consistently maintain legislation that are a pretty obvious curb on fundamental freedoms. Bill 21, a provincial law passed in 2019, bars government employment to any Quebecer who wears religious garb such as turbans or hijabs. Any charter challenge against Bill 21 would likely be a slam dunk on the “freedom of religion” clause, but Quebec would simply be able to soldier on with the law by invoking the notwithstanding clause.