On the Charter’s 40th Anniversary: ‘Who had the worst bunk in Canada’s locked down barracks?’

CALGARY: As the Charter reaches its 40th anniversary this Easter weekend, the Justice Centre has released a new Report: Who had the worst bunk in Canada’s locked down barracks?

April 17, 2022, marks 40 years since the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became a part of Canada’s Constitution. But this date has been marred by the long list of serious Charter infringements perpetrated against Canadians by the federal and provincial governments over the last two years.

The Report notes that during the first few months, there was relatively little difference across the country in provincial responses. But as time went on, the responses to Covid became more dissimilar and less grounded on proven science. Along with the federal government, each province claimed to be “following the science” while violating Canadians’ Charter freedoms to move, travel associate, assemble, worship, and exercise control over their own bodies. Still, the extent and severity of Charter violations varied by province.

Nowhere across the provinces were Charter rights and freedoms respected by governments, but some Canadians had it worse than others. Here are the provinces, ranked on their infringements on freedom, from worst to “least worst”:

  • Quebec
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Ontario
  • Atlantic “Bubble” Maritime Provinces
  • Alberta
  • Saskatchewan

With its totalitarian-style nightly curfews, inter-provincial travel restrictions, restrictions on travel within the province, threats of a tax on the unvaccinated, disregard for religious freedom, an imposition of vaccine passports for places of worship, and the continuation of mandatory mask-wearing, Quebec earns the top spot as the worst offender of the Charter.

The Report notes, “lengthy provincial stay-at-home orders, intended by Premier Doug Ford to be enforced with random police stops, showed an alarming government comfort with Soviet-style enforcement. Ontario’s mutual border closures with Manitoba and Quebec also violated Canadians’ Charter right to move. The province prosecuted and fined some pastors and congregations which defied public health orders, but unlike Alberta, at least did not jail anyone.”

Using the Charter-protected freedoms such as the freedom of conscience and religion, peaceful assembly and association, the freedom to travel freely between the provinces, and the right to liberty and not to be arbitrarily detained as the benchmark, the Report ranks the rest of the provinces, finding Saskatchewan to have been the least-bad “bunk” in the locked down “barracks.”

“Seeing the severe and widespread violations of Charter freedoms in the past two years, often with apparent public support, is particularly tragic as we mark the Charter‘s 40th Anniversary this Easter weekend,” states lawyer John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre.

“Having the least bad bunk in Canada’s locked down barracks is nothing to be proud of. I hope that Saskatchewan’s politicians, health officials and the public at large do not congratulate themselves in relation to this new report,” notes Mr. Carpay.

In every Canadian province, the “two weeks to flatten the curve” became two years to flatten our freedoms, concludes the Report.