The Federal Court has upheld the Trudeau government’s hotel quarantine program as constitutional.
Chief Justice Paul Crampton released his decision in favour of the Trudeau government Friday, in a decision that said pandemics require “sacrifices,” even of constitutional freedoms.
In his decision, the judge explains that while mandatory quarantine hotels do violate the right to liberty and can be considered a form of detention, they are justified as preventing the spread of COVID-19 is in the national interest.
“Like times of war and other crises, pandemics call for sacrifices to save lives and avoid broad based suffering,” the ruling reads.
“If some are unwilling to make such sacrifices, and engage in behaviour that poses a demonstrated risk to the health and safety of others, the principles of fundamental justice will not prevent the state from performing its essential function of protecting its citizens from that risk.”
In February, the Trudeau government issued an order forcing international air travelers to be quarantined for three days in specific hotels at their own expense.
Travelers have reported atrocious conditions in the hotel and little assistance from staff. In one instance, a woman was sexually assaulted in a government quarantine facility.
The court found this incident did not mean there were broader security issues that would warrant finding a Charter breach.
The challenge was started by multiple Canadians who were forced to go to quarantine hotels as well as Rebel News, arguing that forcibly detaining travelers violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Cramoton noted that Charter Rights are not absolute and can be limited if in the public interest.
JCCF litigation director Jay Cameron said the ruling gives the Trudeau government free reign to violate the freedoms of Canadians.
“Never in post Charter history have law-abiding Canadians been detained en masse against their will, with no regard for the fundamental freedoms this country was founded on,” Cameron said.
“The Federal Court’s finding that these heavy-handed measures are constitutional is deeply concerning. Canadians continue to wait anxiously for the courts of the land to draw boundaries around the increasingly authoritarian measures of government regarding Covid. We are reviewing the decision carefully.”