This will be from a Canadian perspective. Possibly one of the most important questions most overlooked throughout the events of 2020 onward, are all these "measures" being undertaken in the name of safety actually lawful?
In Canada, the "Constitution of Canada" is the supreme law, or the law of the land. See Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982. The most commonly cited part of the Constitution of Canada is the "Charter of Rights and Freedoms" ("the Charter"). Order a free copy or download the PDFs.
Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Here we'll highlight what we see as some of the most important parts in the current context. Emphasis is our own.
Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms
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.
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.
Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada. Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right to move to and take up residence in any province; and to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights reaffirms some of the language in the Charter, adds some things, including one very important thing, emphasized below.
It is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely,
(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;
(b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law;
(c) freedom of religion;
(d) freedom of speech;
(e) freedom of assembly and association; and
(f) freedom of the press.
Every law of Canada shall, unless it is expressly declared by an Act of the Parliament of Canada that it shall operate notwithstanding the Canadian Bill of Rights, be so construed and applied as not to abrogate, abridge or infringe or to authorize the abrogation, abridgement or infringement of any of the rights or freedoms herein recognized and declared, and in particular, no law of Canada shall be construed or applied so as to
(a) authorize or effect the arbitrary detention, imprisonment or exile of any person;
(b) impose or authorize the imposition of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment;
Nothing in Part 1 shall be construed to abrogate or abridge any human right or fundamental freedom not enumerated therein that may have existed in Canada at the commencement of this Act.
This hopefully helps bring some clarity. Fundamental rights and freedoms do not disappear during an emergency, any exceptions require not only demonstrable justification, but an express declaration by an Act of Parliament invoking the so called notwithstanding clause, as you can see above.
Several fundamental rights and freedoms clearly appear to have been deeply infringed upon - freedom of religion (Christian communities being targeted, Pastors being arrested, Jewish communities being targeted), freedom of expression (Bill C10 seeks to regulate and censor online communications including social media), freedom of assembly (detaining organizers of protests, harrassing and fining protestors, deeming protests illegal by public health decree), freedom of association (declaring by public health decree what and how many people you may or may not associate with), mobility rights (border closures, checkpoints, small business closures), legal rights (deprivation of liberty and arbitrary detainment without principles of fundamental justice).
Some important questions:
- Has anyone voted on any of what has transpired?
- Has demonstrable justification been provided?
- Has the notwithstanding clause been invoked?
- Has any court in Canada heard constitutional challenges?
We hope this has been helpful to someone. Please consider some of the implications for our future here before "going along to get along", which is largely what has landed us where we are so far.