The trial of anti-lockdown protestors for allegedly violating Saskatchewan’s 10-person limit on outdoor gatherings adjourned yesterday, March 23, 2023, with the Crown staying three charges and the Court reserving its decision on the remaining charges until May 25, 2023.
On May 15, 2021, the Regina Police had monitored a small group of protestors who they asserted were protesting Saskatchewan’s Public Health Orders regarding COVID-19.
At that time, Saskatchewan prohibited public outdoor gatherings if they had more than 10 people, including protests, while allowing at least three times that many people to gather for public indoor events and not imposing any numerical limits on retail, bars and restaurants. A constitutional challenge had been filed against the restrictions on outdoor protest on April 7, 2021, and Saskatchewan had announced on May 4, 2021 that the limit on public outdoor gatherings would be increased from 10 to 150 people near the end of May 2021.
According to a press release issued May 16, 2021, the Regina Police issued charges to 13 alleged protestors at Victoria Park.
The trial of those charged for that protest occurred on March 20-23, 2023, in Regina. At trial, the Regina Police alleged that there were up to 32 protestors on the sidewalk alongside Victoria Park on the afternoon of May 15, 2021. Following examination of a police witness, the Crown stayed the charges against three alleged protestors. The trial adjourned pending additional legal and Charter arguments. On May 25, 2023, the Court is expected to render verdicts on May 25, 2023, on the remaining charges relating to the May 15th protest, as well as on charges relating to two other anti-lockdown protests which occurred earlier at Victoria Park.
The constitutional challenge to Saskatchewan’s 10 and 30-person limits on outdoor protests is currently proceeding at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, with an appeal hearing yet to be set.
“It is heartening to see that three individuals charged for exercising their constitutional right to protest, are no longer facing thousands of dollars in fines for doing so,” states Marty Moore, a constitutional lawyer involved in the case. “The Regina Police Service, including its chief, violated an identical 10 person gathering limit to participate with hundreds of others in BLM protests. The actions of Regina Police call into question whether these charges were imposed, not because of a health risk, but because of government opposition to the protestors’ views.”