The Justice Centre represents Brad Carrigan, a Calgary man who organized and attended weekly freedom rallies against lockdowns throughout 2020 and 2021. On December 26, 2020, Mr. Carrigan was arrested shortly after one of the rallies and held in police custody overnight. He was charged with disobeying public health orders and released on bail.
On May 9, 2022, his trial was held in Calgary. Crown prosecutors argued that the freedom rally Mr. Carrigan was involved in was a “private social gathering” subject to public health orders issued by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw, which restricted gatherings at the time and even banned Albertans from having company or family visit their own home.
Justice Centre lawyer, Hatim Kheir, argued that the freedom rally did not fall under the definition of a private social gathering.
“What’s prohibited by the order is attending a private social gathering” and “the rally was not private” argued Mr. Kheir. Private “implies some degree of exclusion, which is inconsistent with a wide-open outdoor rally.”
The Court agreed and acquitted Mr. Carrigan on all charges. The Court held that “what is private is something that’s not open to the public. That seems kind of common sense to me. This protest…was, in my mind, open to the public.”
“This decision will have an impact on anyone charged for protesting in Alberta. The public health orders never actually captured the act of publicly gathering to protest. At the time the gathering restrictions were in place, Albertans retained the right and ability to protest, contrary to what the police have said,” stated Mr. Kheir. I prefer peaceful gathering or peaceful assembly rather than protest, but I’ll leave it to you guys.