The Civil Rights Argument Against the Economic Shutdown

Charter of Rights and Freedoms

In response to the COVID emergency, provincial and municipal governments have made several orders that violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is the Ontario Libertarian Parties position that all Canadian citizens and permanent residents have the right to travel and to work during the current COVID crisis and these rights are guaranteed by existing law. These existing laws need to be enforced and penalties for violations of the law by government needs to be increased. As such, we are calling for:

1) the immediate repeal of all government orders that violate the charter, the UN covenant, and the quarantine act, and

2) The introduction of administrative penalties against politicians and government employees who enact or enforce any order that violates the charter or the covenant.

Since 1988, the declaration of an emergency does not authorize any government to override the charter or the covenant. From the pre-amble to the Emergencies Act:

"AND WHEREAS the Governor in Council, in taking such special temporary measures, would be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights and must have regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly with respect to those fundamental rights that are not to be limited or abridged even in a national emergency;"

28(d)(i) of the Quarantine Act authorizes the federal government to detain people travelling to Canada from other countries if they have reasonable grounds to believe they are sick, or if they refuse to cooperate. They can order you to get assessed by a medical professional and place you in quarantine. But they do not have the authority to quarantine healthy people as they have done by ordering a 14 day manditory quarantine for all people returning from other countries.

28(1)(d) A quarantine officer may detain any traveller who the quarantine officer has reasonable grounds to believe has or might have a communicable disease or is infested with vectors, or has recently been in close proximity to a person who has or might have a communicable disease or is infested with vectors, and is capable of infecting other people;

Section 6(2) of the charter guarantees your right to move and to work in Canada. The current restrictions on travel to secondary residences, travel within Canada are a violation of your charter rights as a Canadian citizen. Ordering the closure of “non-essential businesses” and the resultant laying off of “non-essential workers” are a violation of your rights by the government:

(2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right:

  1. to move to and take up residence in any province; and

  2. to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.

Article 12(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also guarantees our right to move within Canada and to choose our own residence. The lockdown and stay at home orders violate your civil rights and should be repealled immediately.

1. Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.

Some defenders of government COVID overreach claim that the not-withstanding clause can be invoked and that the lockdown is justified. Please refer to R v Oakes which sets out the conditions the government must follow to invoke the not-withstanding clause.

1) the measures adopted must be carefully designed to achieve the objective in question. They must not be arbitrary, unfair or based on irrational considerations. In short, they must be rationally connected to the objective;

2) the means, even if rationally connected to the objective in this first sense, should impair "as little as possible" the right or freedom in question;

3) Third, there must be a proportionality between the effects of the measures which are responsible for limiting the Charter right or freedom, and the objective which has been identified as of "sufficient importance".

The quarantining of healthy uninfected people does not prevent the spread of communicable diseases. It is only reasonable to quarantine sick people.

The theory of “flattening the curve” is an unproven hypothesis based on models rather than facts. There are many reasons to doubt the validity of these models and emerging data is showing that districts that remained economically open have similar death rates to regions that banned work and travel. An unproven methodology should never have been tried on such a large scale.

The government has assumed and is using models that assume that individuals and companies will not privately and voluntarily choose to take reasonable actions to prevent the spread of COVID, they went straight to coercion without even considering voluntary action.

The government has made several irrational, unfair and arbitrary orders. For example:

  1. The closure of public spaces and parks but not Walmart or grocery stores

  2. Walking is allowed in public parks but not standing, rollerblading or bicycling

  3. The banning of the use of motor boats as a means of transportation but not kayaks or canoes

  4. People can travel and go grocery shopping in other communities but cannot access their secondary residences in those same communities

The government has not considered the increase in death rates from heart disease, suicide, and other chronic health conditions caused by the economic lockdown, which are substantial.

The government initially justified its lockdown by claiming that ICU capacity would be overwhelmed, however this has not come to pass. Many hospitals are operating at 50%-70% of capacity at the peak of this epidemic. Despite this, the government refuses to loosen its restrictions on our economic freedom.

The Ontario Libertarian Party remains the only political party that supports your right to live and work while taking voluntary precautions to protect yourself and others against viral infections. Please support us so we can continue to grow.