Trial Update, Alberta Court lockdown challenge

Rebecca Ingram, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Alberta, et al. – Action No. 2001-143000

The Justice Centre is in Court on a 14-day-trial this week and next, on an Application in the Court of Queen’s Bench against Alberta lockdowns first started on December 4, 2020.

Lawyer Leighton Grey Q.C. has conduct of the constitutional challenge brought by the Justice Centre, on behalf of individuals and churches, and is joined by lawyer Jeffrey Rath, who represents an individual client. The action is to set aside the recent Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Orders that trample the constitutionally-protected rights of citizens of Alberta, and violate the Alberta Bill of Rights and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

To date, in the Province of Alberta, only 0.000025% of the total Alberta population has died from an alleged COVID-19 infection without any other fatal comorbidities.

On February 11, 2022, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Dr.B), a Stanford-educated epidemiologist testified for the Justice Centre as the expert witness on public health and covid. Dr. Bhattacharya is a world-renowned expert who is co-author of The Great Barrington Declaration, which advocates for targeted measures to protect vulnerable populations from Covid, rather than mass societal shutdowns and lockdowns. Dr. Bhattacharya has testified in many such cases, including the Justice Centre’s Gateway Constitutional challenge heard last May in Manitoba. The Court heard on Thursday that Dr. Bhattacharya refuses all offers of compensation for his services as an expert witness.

The Alberta Government brought an application to not allow any documents after July 21, 2021 into the court hearing, just before the trial started on February 11. Lawyer for Alberta, Mr. Nicholas Parker told the court he is going on vacation on February 25th and does not want the trial to run longer than scheduled, even though all others agree to extend if necessary. Mr. Rath told the Court that this is the second time this trial has been impacted by someone’s vacation schedule, the first was when Government lawyers sought an adjournment due to Dr. Hinshaw dealing with “hospital crisis” due to Covid in September, but went on holiday instead the day court was scheduled to attend.

Dr. Bhattacharaya withstood vigorous cross examination, during which he maintained that the societal costs of lockdown measures vastly exceed their benefits, and that the preferred approach is focused protection of those who are most vulnerable to severe health outcomes from Covid-19, i.e. individuals over 60 years of age who suffer from multiple co-morbidities. Colonel David Redman also testified on behalf of the Applicants about Alberta’s refusal to follow its own 2014 pandemic response plan, its failure to develop a coherent plan to deal with Covid-19, and the severe public costs of lockdown measures.

The Court denied the joint Application of Mr. Grey and Mr. Rath to have The Honourable Brian Peckford P.C., former premier of Newfoundland, and one of the original drafters and signatory to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, testify in the case. The Court described Mr. Peckford as private citizen whose first-hand knowledge of s.1 of the Charter is “irrelevant” to the issues to be decided by the Court. Justice Romaine also granted the Government application to exclude a recent John’s Hopkins meta-analysis on the ineffectiveness of lockdowns and other non-pharmaceutical interventions. Justice Romaine accepted the Alberta Government position that this report was not relevant, since it was only released last month and would import the benefit of hindsight to the CMOH. This is despite the fact that all but one of the 34 studies covered therein were completed in 2020, and related specifically to an analysis of the first wave. To date, all of the many contested procedural applications conducted in the case since December of 2020 have gone in favour of the Alberta Government.

Alberta Government counsel requested that health orders only be considered by the court up until the date of the last hearing in July, which was the cut-off date for submissions. Lawyers for the Applicants argued that they had given the court notice, from the beginning of proceedings, that they intended to include evidence about all the directives, up to and including the current hearing, due to the fact that their clients are affected by all government directives. Lawyer Jeffery Rath said they had also sent a letter to Justice Poelman in October concerning this issue. Justice Romaine said that the letter appears to have not been received by the Court.

Justice Romaine stated yesterday she would only consider admitting directives up to the end of September and none after that. Today the Justice said she is not inclined to include those September directives. But the court adjourned for an hour to allow Rath to investigate what happened to the October letter.

After a morning break, Mr. Rath requested a 24-hour adjournment. He said that the issue of admissibility of the September orders is so important to his clients that, if they are not included, there might no point in going forward with the hearing at all, since the only Orders before the Court were all rescinded last July.

Mr. Parker expressed concern that the hearing was already behind schedule, and with six witnesses left to call, he believed that with a 24-hour adjournment, the present schedule might be “at the point of no return” with regard to the Feb 24 end date. He added that it is Alberta’s position that the issue of admissibility is illegitimate.

Mr. Rath that stated he believed the issue of such importance that he would do everything in his power to expedite matters by cutting back on cross examination time in upcoming witnesses. He also noted the crown went overtime in their cross examination of Dr. Bhattacharya, taking triple the amount of time the government requested. Mr. Rath said it would prejudice his clients if the September orders (which included the vaccine passport program) were not included.

Parker noted that if the September directives are included, then all parties would need a lengthy adjournment to file additional evidence.

The trial resumes February 17, 2022.

To observe the trial, please email the Court of Queen’s Bench and request a link.

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