Justice Centre
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About Wikipedia

The entry for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms on Wikipedia includes false, biased, incomplete and misleading information.

Wikipedia itself acknowledges the issue: “Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time. This means that any information it contains at any particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong”. Unfortunately, even though the Justice Centre has corrected multiple instances of false and inaccurate information on Wikipedia, certain anonymous editors constantly re-edit the information to reflect their own social, political and/or personal viewpoint. Instead of wasting valuable resources on continuously correcting inaccurate information which is then constantly vandalized, the Justice Centre maintains an accurate Wiki page here below.

Founder

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (the Justice Centre) was founded in 2010 by John Carpay. Carpay was born in the Netherlands but raised in B.C. Fluent in English, French, and Dutch, he earned a B.A. in Political Science at Laval University and an LL.B. at the University of Calgary. He was called to the Bar in 1999 and was the Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation from 2001 to 2005. He was director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation from 2005 to 2010, then founded the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms in 2010.

The Justice Centre is a Canadian legal organization and federally registered charity that defends citizens fundamental, constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Justice Centre represent clients free of charge and is non-partisan, non-political, non-religious, and strictly focused on government infringements on individual freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly, equality before the law, and the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person.

The Justice Centre is not affiliated with any other groups or organizations and remains completely independent.

As stated in their 2021 Donor Information Package, “The Justice Centre is strictly non-partisan, non-political and non-religious. We do not take political positions or affiliate with any political parties. All of our cases are undertaken on the basis of defending Charter rights and freedoms.”

Case Selection

The Justice Centre reports they are only able to take on a fraction of hundreds of cases that are submitted to the organization each year. Since March of 2020, with “temporary” government restrictions having become permanent, donors have made it possible for the Justice Centre to expand the legal team significantly, to try and meet increasing demand. The Justice Centre Board of Directors reviews potential cases and plays a key role in determining whether a case is accepted or not.

Each court case requires at least dozens, and often hundreds, of hours of time to gather and review evidence, conduct detailed legal research, prepare legal documents, conduct necessary cross examinations of government officials, and present oral argument in court. The Justice Centre only takes cases against governments and governmental authorities (ie. school boards, municipalities, universities, regulatory bodies created under federal or provincial law, etc.).

The Justice Centre does not sue private companies and businesses because they are not bound by the Charter. The Charter only applies to the relationship a citizen has with the government. The Justice Centre’s mandate is limited to constitutional matters. The organization will not take cases that primarily involve criminal or family law, civil litigation, landlord and tenant matters, employment law, tax law, immigration law, or class action lawsuits seeking damages (financial compensation).

Cost for Legal Services

There is no charge for the legal services provided by the Justice Centre. Since 2010, the Justice Centre has operated entirely without government funding, and officials tax receipts to donors for donations of $50 or more. The Justice Centre is funded by the voluntary donations of more than 10,000 Canadians from coast to coast.

Position on Covid

According to its’ 2021 Donor Information Package, “The Justice Centre is deeply concerned about the avalanche of government restrictions on the Charter rights and freedoms of Canadians. We are working diligently to bring government to account before courts, and in the public square, to defend their violations of our freedoms to move, travel, associate, worship, and assemble publicly and peacefully.”

“Government must answer to these unprecedented measures and ensure compliance with the rule of law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Under the Charter, Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governments may only infringe our rights and freedoms to meet serious external threats and internal threats.”

Impact

According to its 2020 annual report, “The Justice Centre staff lawyers are devoted to defending the free society, and tirelessly carry out this work even while earning considerably less than lawyers at regular commercial law firms.”

As of November 2021, according to the annual Christmas Card mailed to supporters and donors, the Justice Centre had 37 full time, part-time and contract staff. The legal team is made up of 14 dedicated lawyers, multiple lawyers who contribute and lead cases as outside counsel, seven paralegals, one legal assistant, and two articling students.

Lawyers continue to be hired on an ongoing basis to meet intense demand for the Justice Centre’s pro bono legal services. The Communications department includes the Director of Communications Marnie Cathcart and five team members, including two assistants, a graphic and web designer, a research assistant, and a videographer, while the remainder of the team is made of up Director of Development Joel Chute and various office, research and administrative staff. Together the Justice Centre's team of dedicated lawyers has over 100 years.

In 2020, the Justice Centre’s internet reach was dramatic, outpacing the online readership of the National Post, Canada’s national newspaper, with 2.2 million web page views in 1.72 million web sessions from 1.3 million visitors. The Justice Centre also logged 3.3 million Facebook impressions and a total reach of 1.9 million plus 2.3 million Twitter impressions. 2021 numbers are significantly higher.

Education Activities

The centre hosts an annual student essay contest to promote critical thinking on constitutional freedoms and publishes an annual Campus Freedom Index, which measures the state of free speech on Canadian university campuses using a five-tier grading scale. In 2021, the Justice Centre produced the 2021 Vaccine Campus Vaccine Index.

The Justice Centre Communications team produces high quality documentaries and videos on cases and topics of interest to the Canadian public.

The Justice Centre podcast, Justice with John airs weekly with Host Kevin Steel, and a weekly video series, Justice Matters discusses cases underway as well as topics of ongoing news interest.

Major Court Cases

Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Trinity Western University

In 2012 the private evangelical school Trinity Western University (TWU) completed a proposal to establish a law school. TWU’s Community Covenant Agreement mandated students to refrain from sex “that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”. In objection to the covenant, memberships of law societies in Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia voted to deny accreditation to the law school. This meant graduates would have to apply for admission to the society after graduation on an individual basis instead of being guaranteed admission on the basis of their degree.

The Justice Centre intervened on court cases regarding TWU in all three provinces. In Ontario, the court ruled in favour of the Law Society of Upper Canada, but TWU won in B.C. and Nova Scotia. The Ontario and BC rulings were appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) and again, the Justice Centre intervened in both cases. On June 15, 2018 the SCC ruled in favour of the law societies in 7–2 decisions in both cases.

The majority decisions said that TWU’s covenant would deter LGBT students from attending the proposed law school and that equal access to legal education, diversity in the legal profession and preventing harm to LGBT students were in the public interest.

Newfoundland marriage commissioner

Desiree Dichmont became a marriage commissioner in Newfoundland in 1997. After same-sex marriages were legalized in 2004, she was ordered to perform one against her religious beliefs. Dichmont brought the issue to a human rights tribunal, which finally dismissed her claims in 2017, saying the province had no duty to accommodate her religious beliefs. At the March 2019 hearing of the appeal of the tribunal’s decision, The Justice Centre argued as an intervenor that government must respect and appropriately accommodate public servants’ Charter rights, including their freedoms of expression, conscience, and religion. In January 2021, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice Vikas Khaladkar dismissed Dichmont’s application, stating, “[T]his is not a case where Ms. Dichmont is being forced to behave in a degrading or disrespectful manner.” Khaladkar ordered the late Dichmont’s estate to pay costs to the province and the human rights commission. The Justice Centre has launched an appeal of this decision at the Court of Appeal.

Canada Summer Jobs Attestation

Beginning in 2018, applicants for a Canada Summer Jobs grant had to check and initial a box that said “I attest” to the following statement:

Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights, and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.

Rhea Lynne Anderson and William Anderson, a married couple residing near Brooks, Alberta and sole owners of A-1 Irrigation & Technical Services (“A-1”), were denied a CSJ grant in 2018 because they refused to attest. On April 26, 2018, the Justice Centre filed an application on behalf of the Andersons in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.

In December 2018 the Trudeau government announced that 2019 CSJ grant applicants would have to attest to this statement instead: “Any funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program will not be used to undermine or restrict the exercise of rights legally protected in Canada.” The government argued that the Andersons’ case should be struck because the 2018 attestation was no longer required. The court agreed.

BCM (Canada) International were denied CSJ grants not only in 2018 but also 2019. For many previous years, BCM had received CSJ grants and used the funds to employ high school and college students. BCM operates the Mill Stream Bible Camp & Retreat Centre near Peterborough, Ontario, providing recreational and religious programs as a summer camp for youth aged 5 to 15.

In January of 2019, BCM applied for a CSJ grant, but Service Canada rejected the application on May 2, claiming BCM would “restrict access to programs, services, or employment, or otherwise discriminate, contrary to applicable laws, on the basis of prohibited grounds, including sex, genetic characteristics, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”

The Justice Centre helped BCM file an application for judicial review. xi Documents obtained by The Justice Centre record how government employees described the summer camps’ beliefs as “controversial church doctrine along with discriminating hiring practices based on church beliefs” and denied the summer camps’ applications, yet BCM had no opportunity to respond.

According to an internal government email obtained by the Justice Centre, the new 2019 rule was used to bar other religious summer camps from CSJ funding. The rule was created under the specific direction of the Prime Minister and Employment Minister Patti Hajdu despite a November 2018 memo from bureaucrats that under this option “[e]mployers governed by or linked to faith-based organizations would disproportionately be deemed ineligible for grants given potential links made by program staff to broader doctrine adhered to by faith based organizations.” The memo specifically mentioned the heightened risk to “a faith-based employer that runs a summer camp”.

On June 29, 2021, the Federal Court struck down the discriminatory federal government decision against Mill Stream Bible Camp. Justice Richard Mosley ruled BCM was denied procedural fairness and had suffered an unreasonable decision to withhold $45,600 to fund six camp counsellors. Justice Mosley ordered legal costs to be paid by the government to BCM.

A.A. vs. Simcoe Muskoka Child Services

In November 2017, the couple “A.A.” and “B.A.” applied to become foster parents. After they completed the required training, a Child Services social worker interviewed the couple.

The social worker asked A.A. whether his church “still believes in some of the more outdated parts of the Bible.” He responded that his church believes and adheres to the whole Bible. The social worker then commented that her son is gay and had been told by churches that homosexuality is a sin. A.A. explained that the Bible identifies homosexual behaviour as sinful, but all people are created in the image of God and are worthy of respect, dignity, and honor. He said he and his wife would provide any child in their care with unconditional love, respect, and compassion, and vigorously defend them from harassment and bullying.

On October 24, 2018, the couple received a letter from Child Services that stated, “we feel that the policies of our agency do not appear to fit with your values and beliefs and therefore, we will be unable to move forward with an approval for your family as a resources home.” The couple phoned the agency the next day and a social worker said that Child Services’ “anti-oppressive” policy conflicted with the couple’s opinions about homosexual behaviour.

The Justice Centre wrote Child Services a letter on January 22, 2019 saying their dismissal of the couple’s application was unlawful and prejudiced against their religious beliefs, but Child Services responded that their decision was final. The Justice Centre applied for a judicial review, which was held July 12, 2019. The review calls for a declaration from the court that Child Services unreasonably rejected the couple’s application and unreasonably impaired their conscience and belief. The couple also wants the court to direct the agency to include the court’s ruling in any relevant correspondence with other foster and adoption agencies.

Freedom of Expression

Wilson vs. University of Calgary

A campus pro-life club at the University of Calgary erected a graphic display as part of a “Genocide Awareness Project,” which had photographs of an aborted fetus alongside the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. University security staff requested the students running the display to turn graphic portions inward, away from passers-by. After the students refused to comply, the school’s Vice-Provost ruled the students were guilty of misconduct and issued them a formal written warning.

The University’s board of governors refused to hear an appeal and upheld the penalty. With the help of the Justice Centre, the students requested that the Court of Queen’s Bench order the board to allow an appeal. The court ruled in April 2014 that the Board of Governors’ decision not to hear the appeal of the students “[lacked] justification, transparency and intelligibility” and ordered the board to hear the students’ appeal.

Campus Freedom Index

The Justice Centre has published their Campus Freedom Index since 2012, issuing letter grades to Canadian universities for their “policies and actions to protect freedom of speech.” A National Post opinion article penned by John Carpay in 2012 said that Canadian universities often failed to uphold free speech.
Writer Lindsay Shepherd, former teaching assistant at Sir-Wilfrid Laurier University, joined the Justice Centre in 2019 to promote free speech on campuses. Two Laurier professors and one administrator reprimanded her for having shown pupils a segment of a televised debate on gender pronouns that included University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan T. Peterson.

Weld vs. Ottawa Public Library

The Justice Centre represented Madeline Weld in an application against the Ottawa Public Library. Weld booked a private viewing of the film “Killing Europe” to be attended by the documentary’s producer Michael Hansen on November 25, 2017. The film explores the negative impact of the wave of migrants who came to Europe in 2015. In response to alleged “complaints,” the library cancelled the showing the day before the showing.

The Justice Centre sought a declaration that the library violated freedom of expression. The lower court in Ontario ruled September 16, 2019 that it would not hear the case because the room booking was not sufficiently public to be reviewable by the court.

The Justice Centre filed a motion October 1 to the Ontario Court of Appeal seeking a declaration “that the Library unjustifiably violated [Weld’s] freedom of expression.” On February 14, 2020, the appeal was denied with no reasons given. In an online post, the Justice Centre commented, “The lack of written reasons from the Court of Appeal on an important constitutional matter with broad implications for the public are troubling.”

Meghan Murphy and Vancouver Public Library

Meghan Murphy and other Vancouver women booked a room at the Vancouver Public Library to hold a “Gender Identity Ideology and Women’s Rights” event in January 2019. Murphy, founder and editor of the Feminist Current, previously stated that “transwomen” (biological males who identify as women) are men and should not have access to women’s changerooms, bathrooms, and shelters.
In response to internet mob pressure, the Chief Librarian stated that the library “does not agree with the views of the Feminist Current”, and that “Meghan Murphy’s opinions are concerning”. The library then demanded that the event not start at 6:30 PM as booked, but rather take place sometime after the library’s 9:30 PM closing. The library further demanded a $2,048 security fee “to ensure safety” by paying for “additional security guards”. Murphy and other organizers protested the additional charge, noting that they already had retained private security.
The Justice Centre wrote the library to request they rescind the security fee. In discussions, the legal team from the organization reminded the library of its duty to be neutral as a public entity and its legal duty to uphold the Charter rights of both speakers and listeners. The event proceeded as planned without court action to a capacity audience of 300 people.

AMLA and Jerry Pasternak vs. City of Edmonton

The Justice Centre appeared in court on November 13, 2020, representing the Alberta March for Life Association (AMLA) and Jerry Pasternak against the City of Edmonton over its decision to cancel a scheduled lighting of the High Level Bridge in colours chosen by AMLA. Through the “Light the Bridge” program, the City invites members of the public and community groups to request the 60,000 programmable lights of the Bridge be lit in specific colours to reflect their event, cause or campaign. The City cancelled the AMLA’s scheduled lighting “due to the polarizing nature of the subject matter.” The Justice Centre argued the City exercised “arbitrary censorship of expressive content on government property.”
In a decision dated Oct. 7, Justice K.S. Feth dismissed an application for judicial review, stating “The outcome of the [city’s] decision, in light of its underlying rationale, was transparent, intelligible and justifiable.”

UAlberta Pro-Life vs. the University of Alberta

In January of 2016 a group of students at the U of A applied to set up a peaceful, stationary education display for their campus pro-life club. The University demanded the students pay $17,500 in security fees to hold their event, to cover the wages of security guards and police, and pay for potential misconduct of any other students in response to the display. The prohibitive costs led the club to cancel the event.

A lower court agreed with the U of A decision to charge the security fee, but the Justice Centre successfully appealed that decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal. On January 6, 2020, the Court ruled unanimously that the U of A’s decision to charge a $17,500 security fee was unreasonable and unlawful. In a landmark decision, the Court also found that the Charter protection for freedom of speech applies to the university’s regulation of student speech on university grounds.

In a commentary, President John Carpay called the decision “a victory for campus free speech and a clear message that Canadian universities should stop using security fees to stifle peaceful but unpopular expression.”

Licence plate challenges

In 2019, The Justice Centre represented individuals in three cases where licence plates were revoked due to complaints. President John Carpay stated that without such action, “we move closer to a society where people have a legal right not to feel offended which means that there’s less freedom of expression.” The Canadian Civil Liberties Association also expressed support for the plaintiffs.

The Manitoba plates were “ASIMIL8”, issued to a Star Trek fan, and “NDN CAR”, issued to Bruce Spence, a Nehiyaw man from Opaskwayak Cree Nation in reference to the song Indian Cars by Keith Secola. Advocacy by the Justice Centre convinced Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) to restore Spence’s plates. However in October 2019, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba upheld the decision by MPI to take back the “ASIMIL8” because “assimilate” would be associated with the forced assimilation of Indigenous people.

Lorne Grabher had his last name on his Nova Scotia vanity plate but “GRABHER” led to a sole complaint. On December 9, 2016 the Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles notified Grabher by letter that his plate was revoked because it could be “misinterpreted” as a “socially unacceptable slogan.”. In her January 31, 2020 ruling, Justice Darlene Jamieson of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court upheld the decision to revoke the plate. On August 24, 2021, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal upheld Jamieson’s decision. Justice Jamieson’s decision is being appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Free Speech Club vs. UBC

In November 2019, The Free Speech Club, a student group at UBC, organized an event entitled “Understanding ANTIFA Violence” to take place on January 29, 2020 at UBC’s Robson Square campus. The event was to feature Post Millennial editor-at-large Andy Ngo. In December, UBC suddenly cancelled the event, stating by email it was due to “concern about the safety and security of our campus community”.

On December 31, 2019, the Justice Centre issued a demand letter on behalf of the club to UBC President Santa Ono to request that UBC reinstate the club’s event or face legal action. UBC refused. The Justice Centre sued UBC on behalf of the Free Speech Club on July 10, 2020. The petition seeks an order quashing the cancellation, disclosure of assessment criteria used for approving speakers on campus, and a declaration that the decision to cancel the event was against the freedom of expression protected under the Charter.

Challenge to constitutionality of COVID-19 public health restrictions

In 2020, The Justice Centre responded to over 1,200 lockdown-related requests for legal help, including over 100 submissions related to the isolation of elderly residents of long-term care homes. On September 8, 2020, the Justice Centre wrote the health ministers and chief medical officers of every province for information regarding deaths from cancelled surgeries. And by January 2021, The Justice Centre was representing over 100 individuals issued tickets for peacefully exercising their Charter Freedoms.

The Justice Centre became the first Canadian organization to challenge lockdowns in court. In preparation for court, the Justice Centre released a comprehensive legal analysis for each of the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, explaining why lockdown measures were not justified under the Charter. The Justice Centre subsequently published Flying Blind, a Charter analysis on the impact of lockdowns on the lives of all Canadians, and the government’s failure to consider all lockdown harms.
In 2020, governments in Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan prohibited on “drive-in” church services (cars parked on church parking lots, with services delivered via car speaker). Ontario backed down when served a lawsuit by the Justice Centre, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba changed their policies upon receipt of the Justice Centre legal warning letters.

Federal Court Challenges

In March of 2020, the Federal Government closed all Service Canada Centres and Passport offices. Thereafter, Canadians were required to “prove” they had “valid, urgent” reasons to travel, to obtain or renew passports. However, the Federal Government refused to accept and process most passport applications by mail. In August 2020, the Justice Centre filed a court application for three Canadians who applied to renew their passports and were denied. Four days later, the government resumed processing applications by mail.

Effective January 7, 2021, the federal government ordered that airplane travellers to Canada had to provide proof of a negative Covid laboratory test conducted within 72 hours prior to the flight. On February 12, the federal government issued an order that that Canadians required another test on arrival and had to quarantine three days in a federally-approved hotel at their expense while waiting for the results. The new mandatory quarantine took effect on February 22.

The Justice Centre demanded by letter that the government stop the practice immediately and release anyone then held in quarantine. Shortly afterward the Justice Centre commenced litigation against the quarantine. Justice Centre lawyers Sayeh Hassan and Henna Parmar appeared in Federal Court June 1 –3, 2021 in Toronto on behalf of eleven clients who challenged the policy.

On June 18, Chief Justice Paul Crampton ruled that mandatory quarantine hotels and quarantine facilities were constitutional. The Justice Centre appealed this decision on June 30 and the Federal Court of Appeal later agreed to expedite proceedings.

Ontario

Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo was fined $83,000 for holding religious services despite a January 22, 2021 enforcement order not to. On February 23, the church and its leaders were ordered to pay fines and costs totalling $83,000. The Justice Centre challenged this order, and a separate order sought by the province to lock the church’s doors. Justice Paul Sweeny dismissed a request by the Attorney General (AG) to lock the doors, but granted a request by the AG that again bound Trinity to the public health orders. In response the Justice Centre launched a constitutional challenge against the order.

The Justice Centre represents two students barred from returning for courses at Seneca College’s North York campus in September 2021 unless they received COVID-19 vaccinations. The Justice Centre wrote a letter on behalf of Mariana Costa and Crystal Love the previous July, advising the College that if it did not lift the vaccine requirement for the two students, legal action would commence. Those letters never received a response.

The Ontario government mandated that people aged 12 and up must provide proof of two doses of the Covid mRNA vaccination as of September 22, 2021, or be denied access to a wide range of businesses and organizations. That same day, the Justice Centre issued a legal warning letter to the Ontario Government on behalf of four clients demanding the vaccine passport mandate be revoked immediately. In October, on behalf of eight citizens who refused to take either one or both doses of the Covid vaccine, the Justice Centre filed a constitutional challenge.

Manitoba

The Justice Centre submitted over 2,000 pages of peer-reviewed science as it challenged lockdown policies in Manitoba. However, Chief Justice Joyal of Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench upheld lockdown policies in two decisions issued October 21, 2021. One decision held that the authority given to Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin was constitutional. The other decision held that the Manitoba’s lockdown restrictions were a justifiable curtailment of the Charter’s provisions. Lawyer Allison Pejovic stated, “We are disappointed in these decisions and in the unwavering deference accorded to public health officials... We are carefully reviewing the decisions and are considering an appeal.”

Saskatchewan

On September 14, 2020, the Justice Centre released “The Unjustified Persistence of Lockdowns”, a Charter analysis that alleged the Saskatchewan Government did not meet constitutional obligations to justify restrictions on Charter rights and freedoms. On April 20, 2021, the Justice Centre filed a constitutional challenge in the Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench against lockdown measures. The challenge was made on behalf of two anti-lockdown protesters who were fined $2,800 each for attending a peaceful outdoor protest that exceeded Saskatchewan’s 10-person outdoor gathering limit.

Alberta

Pastor James Coates’ challenge of Alberta lockdowns

Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church allegedly did not limit attendance to 15 percent of capacity or require masks or social distancing at church services during Covid public health orders. As a result, Coates was arrested on February 17, 2021 by the RCMP. He spent one month and six days in jail before his release on March 22 because he would not sign a bail agreement to agree that he and his church would abide by public health orders.

On April 7, 2021 RCMP entered the property of GraceLife Church under the direction of Alberta Health Services, allegedly under the executive order of Health Minister Tyler Shandro. RCMP seized their church building southwest of Edmonton, erected fences and barricades around it, and guarded it for months, keeping worshippers out. Church services were held underground at undisclosed locations while the government was in control of the church property.

On June 7, 2021, Alberta Provincial Court Judge Robert Shaigec ruled that the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of Pastor Coates did not violate his Charter rights and freedoms, and that ticketing him for leading a regular worship service did not violate freedoms of religion, expression, assembly, and association. The Justice Centre appealed the decision.

The Justice Centre announced June 10, 2021 that GraceLife Church, Pastor James Coates, and three congregants had filed a court application against Alberta Health Services (AHS), Health Minister Tyler Shandro, and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Deena Hinshaw, to force the government to return the building and grounds of the Church.

With the help of the Justice Centre, Pastor Coates launched a legal challenge to the constitutionality and legality of Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s lockdown restrictions. The application called for the Court to strike down public health restrictions, release the church building and prohibit law enforcement and government agents from disrupting worship services.

Expert reports were filed in support of this court challenge, including one from esteemed virologist, immunologist, and pathologist Dr. Byram Bridle. Alberta Provincial Court granted an adjournment because government lawyers were not yet prepared to present any medical or scientific evidence in court.

Suing Alberta Health Services over mandatory vaccination

On October 7, 2021, the Justice Centre sent a legal warning letter to Alberta Health Services (AHS) on behalf of more than 20 AHS employees who were threatened with the loss of their jobs if they did not receive mRNA Covid shots. The demand letter to AHS President and CEO Verna Yiu informed AHS that if the vaccine mandate was not rescinded the Justice Centre would litigate. This legal action is pending.

Transplant withdrawal

A Hospital in Alberta threatened to take terminally-ill 56-year-old Annette Lewis off of an organ donor list for a  transplant because she has chosen not to receive the new Covid-19 vaccine. This was conveyed in a recorded conversation, a letter, and a subsequent phone conversation released publicly by the Justice Centre. On September 2, 2021, the Justice Centre wrote a legal demand letter that the Transplant Program team at the hospital provide confirmation within seven days that Ms. Lewis is exempt from any requirement for a Covid-19 vaccine and would remain on the transplant list. A court action is pending.

British Columbia

On January 8, 2021, the Justice Centre announced it would challenge more than a dozen $2,300 tickets given to individuals and faith communities for allegedly violating COVID public health orders. That same day, the Justice Centre launched a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on behalf of three churches and four individuals against restrictions on public protests and the prohibition of in-person worship services . In response, the B.C. government filed an injunction application targeting the three churches participating in the court challenge. On February 17, 2021, B.C. Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson denied the government’s request for an injunction.

In the decision of Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, issued March 18, 2021, the Court ruled to strike down Public Health Orders banning outdoor protests but dismissed the challenge to the BC Government’s prohibition on in-person religious gatherings.

Regarding the Applicant churches, Chief Justice Hinkson found that Dr. Henry’s Orders infringe the fundamental freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and association, but ruled that the infringements are justified. The Chief Justice did not address the much higher transmission risks in settings BC permits to be open, but rather granted wide deference to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s decision to categorically prohibit in-person religious services.

This case is currently being appealed to the BC Court of Appeal.

The Justice Centre is also defending Dr. Charles Hoffe, who is under investigation by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia and the Interior Health Authority for allegedly promoting vaccine hesitancy, in part after publishing government statistics shared by the Justice Centre.

Other Cases

Allen vs. Alberta

Alberta resident Darcy Allen paid $77,000 for surgery in Montana to relieve chronic back pain after a lengthy wait time. He challenged the Government of Alberta’s monopoly on health insurance within the province (as it applies to seeking out-of-province treatment). The case closely mirrored the 2005 case of Chaoulli v Quebec where the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a government monopoly on health insurance, when combined with extremely long wait lists before care could be provided, violated Section 7 Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. Despite intervention from the Justice Centre, the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled against Allen on March 31, 2014.

Human rights complaints against parents

Justice Centre staff lawyer Marty Moore successfully represented two Alberta parents against complaints to the Alberta Human Rights Commission about James Cyrynowski, who applied through Kijiji to be a babysitter. Danielle, a mother of three young children, asked the potential babysitter if he had children of his own. Todd, a single father of two children, asked Cyrynowski his age and gender. Cyrynowski filed human rights complaints against both parents and made another complaint against the mother of a five-year old boy who advertised for “an older lady with experience”.

Cyrnowski withdrew his complaint against Todd in 2019, two years after first filing the complaint. In November of 2020, the Alberta Human Rights Commission dismissed the complaint against Danielle. Following the decision, Moore said in a press release, “Parents’ personal decisions about who should babysit their children should not be subject to the dictates of the Alberta Human Rights Commission.”

Canada Galaxy Pageants

The Justice Centre is defending Toronto-based Canada Galaxy Pageants against a human rights complaint lodged by Jessica Yaniv in 2020. Yaniv, also known as Jonathan Yaniv and Jessica Simpson, is a male-to-female transgender and at the time had not completed sex reassignment surgery. The Justice Centre has provided legal representation to multiple individuals people and entities subject to human rights complaints lodged by Yaniv, whom the Justice Centre referred to as a “a serial complainant.”

In 2020, Yaniv applied to be a contestant in the pageant, which accepted women and fully transitioned transgender individuals who no longer have male genitals. Males, including contestants’ fathers, are banned from common areas, since contestants aged six and up undress and change clothes in common areas. Teen and adult contestants also compete in a swimwear category. Yaniv seeks $10,000 for hurt feelings and harm to dignity, alleging discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, and sex. The Justice Centre has requested the complaint against Canada Galaxy Pageants be dismissed.

Yaniv vs. Waxing Salons

In 2019, the Justice Centre represented five estheticians in Yaniv vs. Various Waxing Salons before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. Yaniv filed discrimination complaints against 16 waxing salons alleging that they refused to provide Brazilian waxes to Yaniv because Yaniv is transgender. In response to the complaints, several of the estheticians said that they lacked the required training to wax male genitalia or were uncomfortable doing so for religious or personal reasons.

The Tribunal ruled against Yaniv and ordered Yaniv to pay $6,000 in restitution split equally among three of the service providers. The ruling stated that Yaniv “targeted small businesses, manufactured the conditions for a human rights complaint, and then leveraged that complaint to pursue a financial settlement from parties who were unsophisticated and unlikely to mount a proper defence”, and admonished Yaniv for using human rights law as a “weapon” to “penalize” marginalized women with a racial animus and for filing in such a volume for financial gain.

On January 7, 2020 the Justice Centre announced it was representing another salon in an additional complaint filed by Yaniv in early October 2019. By September 2020, Yaniv had withdrawn the complaints against these salons.

Christopher Milburn vs. Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons

The Justice Centre successfully defended emergency room physician Dr. Chris Milburn from professional discipline proceedings by the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons after activists filed a complaint against him for an opinion column he wrote in the Chronicle-Herald.

Columns & Reports - COVID-19


April 14, 2020 - Alberta's Bill 10 is an affront to the rule of law By John Carpay, The National Post

April 10, 2020 - The cost of the coronavirus cure could be deadlier than the disease - By John Carpay, The Post Millenial

April 7, 2020 - Analysis of Part 3 of Alberta’s Public Health Act: (Communicable Diseases and Public Health Emergencies)  - By John Carpay

April 5, 2020 - Canadian coronavirus prediction models must be transparent  - By John Carpay, The Post Millenial

Mar 31st, 2020 - Careful, crises are an ideal time for the state to grab powers: we’re already seeing it in Canada - By Justice Centre board member Bruce Pardy, The Financial Post

March 20, 2020 - Justice dismantled as restrictions placed on court systems - By staff lawyer Lisa Bildy, The Post Millenial

Columns & Reports - COVID-19


April 14, 2020 - Alberta's Bill 10 is an affront to the rule of law By John Carpay, The National Post

April 10, 2020 - The cost of the coronavirus cure could be deadlier than the disease - By John Carpay, The Post Millenial

April 7, 2020 - Analysis of Part 3 of Alberta’s Public Health Act: (Communicable Diseases and Public Health Emergencies)  - By John Carpay

April 5, 2020 - Canadian coronavirus prediction models must be transparent  - By John Carpay, The Post Millenial

Mar 31st, 2020 - Careful, crises are an ideal time for the state to grab powers: we’re already seeing it in Canada - By Justice Centre board member Bruce Pardy, The Financial Post

March 20, 2020 - Justice dismantled as restrictions placed on court systems - By staff lawyer Lisa Bildy, The Post Millenial