Court hearing today for Saskatchewan ban on outdoor protests

SASKATOON: The Justice Centre announced that today, starting at 10 AM, the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatoon will hear a constitutional challenge to the strict restrictions imposed earlier by the Saskatchewan Government on outdoor protests.

From December 17, 2020 to May 30, 2021, Saskatchewan prohibited outdoor protests with more than 10 people, while allowing numerous public indoor gatherings to have at least three times as many people.

Justice Centre lawyers Marty Moore and Andre Memauri represent two anti-lockdown protesters who have been ticketed for attending peaceful outdoor protests that exceeded Saskatchewan’s 10-person outdoor gathering limit. On December 19, 2020 these individuals participated in a peaceful protest against the Government’s lockdown measures, at the Vimy Memorial in Kiwanis Park in Saskatoon,

Jasmin Grandel, a young mother, attended to share her concerns with the lack of transparency concerning the information on which Government requirements and restrictions were based, including the requirement that her son must wear a mask in kindergarten.

Darrell Mills, who is certified in Mask Fit Testing and trained in supplied air breathing systems, attended to voice his concerns about improper mask usage and the significant burdens placed on persons with physical or psychological conditions that prevent them from wearing masks.

For peacefully protesting and publicly expressing their opinions, Ms. Grandel and Mr. Mills were each issued $2800 fines.

Ms. Grandel and Mr. Mills are two of dozens of individuals who have received tickets for peacefully protesting government restrictions. There is no evidence that police issued tickets to those protesting non-Covid related issues.

For example, the Regina Police issued tickets to Ms. Grandel for numerous protests she attended in Regina, including protests with as few as 20 people in attendance. In contrast, on June 5, 2020, Regina Police Chief Evan Bray himself attended a large Black Lives Matter rally with hundreds of people and many other police officers, when the Government’s 10-person limit for outdoor gatherings was also in effect.

The legal challenge argues that prohibiting outdoor protests with more than 10 people violates the Charter freedoms of thought, belief, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association without justification. Mr. Moore and Mr. Memauri argue in their brief that restricting outdoor protests equally or more severely than public indoor gatherings, cannot be justified in light of the Government’s numerous admissions that outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings.

Counsel for the Government argue that the Court should give deference to the Government because its public health restrictions were issued by Dr. Saqib Shahab, who had been delegated the authority to do so from the Minister of Health.

In their reply, Mr. Moore and Mr. Memauri dispute the Government’s assertion that its public health doctor’s opinion should receive greater weight than the opinion of an infectious diseases specialist provided by the Applicants.

“The Saskatchewan Government has no evidence that even a single Covid case was associated with an outdoor protest in Saskatchewan, and yet it imposed some of its harshest restrictions on this essential and constitutionally-guaranteed activity,” states Marty Moore, co-counsel for Ms. Grandel and Mr. Mills.

“By imposing greater and obviously unreasonable numerical restrictions on outdoor protests while permitting three times as many people to attend indoor public gatherings, the Saskatchewan Government damaged the credibility of its Covid response and unjustifiably violated the Charter rights of Saskatchewan residents,” adds Mr. Moore.