WINNIPEG: The Justice Centre informs interested parties and observers that the Manitoba lockdown challenge has been adjourned for two weeks. It was originally scheduled for an eight-day hearing beginning April 19, 2021, however, the court has granted a brief adjournment to permit reply evidence to some of the Applicants’ expert materials. The Justice Centre has filed expert reports authored by world-renowned Stanford Professor, Epidemiologist and Economist Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and two other high-profile medical experts. The materials before the Court are comprised of more than 2000 pages of peer-reviewed science and government data.
The new hearing date is May 3 through 7, and continuing May 10 through 14, taking place over 10 consecutive business days. The Applicants challenge Manitoba’s lockdown measures as unjustified violations of various Charter-protected freedoms including freedom of conscience, religion, expression and peaceful assembly, liberty, security of the person and equality rights.
The action also challenges the validity and reliability of PCR tests and contends that Manitoba, Dr. Brent Roussin as Chief Public Health Officer, and Dr. Jazz Atwal as the Acting Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, failed to consider the collateral social and health costs of locking down society. The Applicants contend the health Orders cannot be justified by section 1 of the Charter.
Earlier in Winnipeg, on February 9, 2021, an initial hearing was held on the constitutionality of the Public Health Act which gives broad authority to the unelected Chief Provincial Health Officer to make Public Health Orders.
During Covid, the Manitoba Legislature, comprised of the people’s democratically elected representatives, has been sidelined in favour of the autocratic authority of Dr. Roussin. The issued Orders are not considered, debated, amended or studied by the legislature. There is no requirement that Dr. Roussin or Dr. Atwal provide the legislature with reports on the Orders, or the science which supposedly supports them.
The Manitoba court action was filed December 9, 2020. The Justice Centre is representing seven churches, a minister, a deacon, and an individual fined for exercising his Charter rights to peacefully protest and express himself at a rally in Steinbach, Manitoba. Members of the faith communities bringing the lawsuit in Manitoba say their fundamental right to worship and assemble have been breached and that the resultant impact on faith communities includes a crisis of conscience, loneliness, and harm to their spiritual well-being. The Manitoba government permits many people to gather in big box stores and in smaller numbers in liquor stores, while places of worship must remain closed. The government admits that its measures infringe some of the constitutional rights and freedoms of the Applicants but claim that the measures are justified, and not arbitrary.
To sign up to watch this hearing on May 3-7, 10-14, please click on this link, email the Manitoba Court clerk at the email address provided in the link, and make sure you fill out parts (a)-(e) in your email as indicated. The proceeding is an “Application” and will commence at 10:00 a.m. beginning May 3, 2021. The parties are: Gateway Bible Baptist Church et al. v. Manitoba et al., file CI 20-01-29284. To watch this hearing you must register by email at least two business days in advance with the Court.