Masking charges dropped: R v. Audette

Ryan Audette (pictured at right) is a Calgary man who was issued a $50 ticket at the end of November, for allegedly not wearing a mask, while exercising his Charter rights to attend a peaceful protest against lockdowns. An estimated one thousand people were at the rally in downtown Calgary. 

The ticket for not wearing a mask in a “public premise” was first issued to Mr. Audette under the Calgary Face Covering Bylaw. Calgary Police Service Constable L. Clarke seemed confused about whether the Bylaw mandated mask-wearing outdoors or only indoors. The Bylaw defines “public premises” as “all or any part of a building, structure or other enclosed area to which members of the public have access as of right or by express or implied invitation[.]” On March 2, 2021, Calgary Crown Prosecutor Maggie Burlington notified the Justice Centre that the ticket would be withdrawn. 

“Public health officials are not the supreme law of the land – the Constitution is,” noted Jay Cameron, Litigation Director for the Justice Centre.  “A significant portion of the arbitrary and confusing public health orders which have so oppressed Canadian society are, on their face, unconstitutional and cannot be justified.  As a result, many of the tickets issued for the supposed violation of such orders will never be prosecuted.  We expect the mass withdrawal of Covid tickets to continue as prosecutors across the country correctly decide to stay charges.”