Despite the Trudeau government’s decision to suspend the vaccine mandate for domestic travel, People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier and former Premier of Newfoundland Brian Peckford say they will continue their legal challenge against the federal government’s vaccine mandates.

The government announced Tuesday afternoon that mandatory vaccination requirements for domestic and outbound flights, as well as for trains would end on Jun. 20. The vaccine mandate for federal employees will also end.

Border restrictions for travellers entering Canada and the use of the ArriveCAN app will remain in place. Unvaccinated travellers are still subjected to quarantine and testing.

Before the government’s anticipated announcement, Peckford’s lawyer Keith Wilson and Bernier announced their intention to continue with their legal challenge against the Trudeau government. 

Both men had launched constitutional challenges against the vaccine mandates. Their efforts have now been combined along with other lawsuits, and are both being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Along with the demand for an order of certiorari (judicial review), Bernier and Peckford had requested that the courts rule the vaccine mandates to be unconstitutional, citing Charter violations.

True North spoke with both Peckford and Bernier about their reasoning for continuing their legal challenge.

“I am continuing the lawsuit because the Federal Government’s lifting or suspending the travel mandate does not eliminate the violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 6) that has been occurring for months now,” Peckford told True North.

“Restoring the Charter is paramount, and bringing accountability to Governments concerning the various so-called unjustifiable, unconstitutional pandemic measures is essential.”

Bernier told True North that his fight against heavy-handed government Covid measures is not over yet, as the federal vaccine mandates have only been suspended. He added that the battle must continue “because it’s too important for the future of the country.” 

“We need to tell the federal government that our constitution and our rights must be respected all the time.”

With the federal government hinting at a possible return of vaccine mandates if the epidemiological situation worsens, Bernier says a judge striking down the policy would set an important precedent.

“If the judge is going ahead and saying that it was illegal and unconstitutional (to impose mandates), that will have a huge impact because it will be a legal precedent that will apply for every Canadian,” said Bernier.

During Tuesday’s announcement, treasury board president Mona Fortier said that vaccine mandates would be re-implemented in the future if necessary.

“The government will continue to closely monitor domestic and international scientific evidence to assess the need for appropriate public health measures, including a reintroduction of vaccine mandates if necessary,” said Fortier.

Health minister Jean Yves Duclos added that future vaccine mandates imposed by the federal government would rely on an up to date definition of “fully vaccinated”.

The court hearing for Bernier and Peckford’s constitutional challenge against federal vaccine mandates is scheduled for Sept. 19, with a decision expected to be made around Dec. 2022.

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