With no end in sight for the federal COVID-19 vaccination requirement to board a commercial flight or train trip in Canada, two men have filed a lawsuit against the Trudeau government demanding the restriction be lifted.
Shaun Rickard, a British citizen who has been living in Canada for 30 years as a permanent resident, is the owner of a contracting business. He is also unvaccinated against COVID-19. Rickard and another man, Karl Harrison, have filed a court challenge against the government’s travel restrictions targeting unvaccinated Canadians.
In an exclusive interview with True North, Rickard explained that “not being able to travel is problematic,” especially since the restrictions bar him from being able to visit his family in England, including his father, who is sick with Alzheimer’s.
After creating a Twitter account and GoFundMe campaign to overturn mandated COVID vaccines, Rickard was able to gain thousands of followers and raise over $22,000 from supporters. He said he was banned from Twitter, however, and that he took down the GoFundMe as a result of Twitter cutting him off from his supporters.
The Freedom Convoy, which concluded in Ottawa late last month, had also advocated for restrictions to be dropped. While the convoy was not related to the lawsuit, Rickard remains supportive of the Ottawa protests.
“I supported the truckers 100%, and I still do,” he told True North.
“Let’s be clear. It’s not like they went and sat in the houses of parliament. They were on a public street, a public sidewalk, outside. The mainstream media has become… despicable in their portrayal of them.”
Lawyer Sam Presvelos is helping with Rickard’s case. According to him, the lawsuit against the Trudeau government emphasizes a lack of scientific justification for the mandates.
“The real focus of the case is just looking at the science,” Presvelos said. “Travel-related Covid-cases are at, like, 1% of all cases. And that’s all travel. If at a grocery store the chance of you getting Covid is 1%, are we going to tell unvaccinated people you cannot buy groceries?”
While similar lawsuits like the one brought by former Newfoundland premier Brian Peckford argue the unconstitutional nature of the mandates, Presvelos emphasized a different approach.
“What people need to understand about Charter rights is that your Charter rights are not absolute, which means that any Charter right you have can be breached by the government,” he said.
Presvelos explained that the Oakes test – which established the limits for the government being able to violate Charter rights – requires legislation to be rationally connected, proportionate and minimally invasive.
Presvelos argued that the mandates are not proportionate or minimally invasive, and that “this policy is more about encouraging people to get vaccinated than it is about protecting the health and safety of travellers.”
While critics of the government’s actions have been labeled as anti-science and uncaring of others, Presvelos wanted to reassure observers of the case that “no matter what the mainstream media and politicians say, we’re all on the same team.”
“We want people to be healthy, we want people to be safe.”
Presvelos said that several lawsuits fighting back against the Trudeau government’s vaccine mandate for travel have been combined, and they will proceed on the same timeline.
The suit is scheduled for its first day in federal court in September.