The Justice Centre represented Patrick Tipper, an Edmonton man that was detained by Alberta Sheriffs and ticketed during a peaceful rally at the Alberta Legislature grounds.
On the afternoon of Sunday, May 10, 2020 approximately 50 people attended the Edmonton Legislature grounds to rally and express their views regarding various issues, such as the recent gun ban imposed by the federal government and the current lockdown measures imposed by the Alberta Government. The rally-goers were spread out and maintaining at least 2 meters distance from each other. Also in attendance were at least 20 Sheriffs and Edmonton Police officers.
The rally was peaceful. A few of the rally-goers, including Pat Tipper, had megaphones and gave speeches while others listened. After about 30 minutes, three teams of three Sheriffs each moved among the people and targeted specific individuals. Mr. Tipper was detained and escorted by Sheriffs off the Legislature grounds and given a $1,200 ticket for “contravening section 73(1) of the Public Health Act”. Mr. Tipper was not told in what way his conduct had violated an order of a medical officer of health.
Mr. Tipper submitted a complaint to the Alberta Sheriffs regarding the conduct of the Sheriffs that apprehended and ticketed Mr. Tipper. On July 24, 2020, Crown prosecutors issued a letter withdrawing the ticket issued to Mr. Tipper.
“The Canadian Constitution protects the rights of people to peacefully assemble and to express their opinions in public places, especially at places with symbolic democratic importance such as the Legislature grounds. The Charter does not cease to protect these rights, even during a declared public health emergency,” stated Justice Centre lawyer James Kitchen.
“Many citizens are alarmed at the government response to COVID-19 and the resulting erosion of democracy and violation of constitutional rights. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects individuals’ freedom to peacefully assemble and express their opinions, especially at important symbolic locations such as the Legislature grounds. This protection is even more vital during declared emergencies, to ensure citizen voices are heard and civil liberties preserved”, noted Justice Centre lawyer James Kitchen.
“The removal from the Legislature grounds and ticketing of Mr. Tipper undermined the rule of law and was an abuse of power by the Sheriffs. The Justice Centre is pleased to see a tacit acknowledgment from the Crown that these tickets were issued in breach of constitutional rights,” said Kitchen.