I believe most people are suffering, to some degree, from COVID-19 virus fatigue. In fact, many people held “health freedom” demonstrations across Canada, and they claimed they have the right to protest, which is true. Yes, people have a constitutional right, via section 2 (b) (freedom of expression) of the Charter of Rights, to protest.
However, some “health freedom” protests, I saw on television, were vulgar and violent. The said protesters were uttering threats and were, swearing, and yelling, as well as hitting, pushing, and shoving their opponents.
Some of them used weapons like clubs, and various kinds of knives. When the “health freedom” fighters became violent, they broke numerous sections of the Criminal Code of Canada like section 264.1 (uttering threats), section 265 (1) assault, and section 267 (assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm).
The protesters tried to hide behind the charter. However, they must understand that charter rights are not absolute. In fact, section 1 of the charter is the limitation clause, which the restricts people’s charter rights, and states:
Rights and freedoms in Canada
1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
The majority of people have never heard of the prior, vague limitation clause. Well, they have now.
But what does section 1 of the charter mean? Section 1 is full of vague, subjective concepts like a reasonable limit. What is a reasonable limit? Moreover, the term reasonable limit is defined by case law and by the courts. Case law is law that is based on prior decisions that judges make.
Moreover, the reasonable limit must be prescribed by law, which means the reasonable limit must be written down, and be available to the public.
Also, there is more to prescribing a reasonable limit on a charter right than by writing it down. The public must understand the reasonable limit, so they can obey it, or face the consequences. The consequences range from being fined to being jailed, or to being fined and jailed.
The next concept that is part of section 1 of the charter is as follows demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society, but what does that mean? This means that charter rights are to be taken seriously because a limit on a charter right must be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. The courts use case law, statute law, legal experts, and various legal tests to determine if a charter right was violated, and if the said violation was demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
Forcing “health freedom” fighters to wear a mask, social distance, and get vaccinated is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society, because people are dying from the highly contagious virus.
Linda Meyer, Maple Ridge
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