The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) wants the Trudeau government to drop all fines related to the controversial ArriveCan app amid its mandatory use coming to an end.
The Trudeau government announced Monday that the app would no longer be required to enter Canada as of Oct. 1. The border vaccine mandate and mandatory masking policy for planes and trains will also be dropped.
JCCF lawyer Henna Parmar told True North that given the feds’ announcement, “it is not in the interest of justice to proceed with prosecuting Canadians for laws that are no longer in effect.”
The JCCF announced this week that it would continue legal action on behalf of 11 people against ArriveCan – with the hope of having a court rule that the requirement to use the app was unconstitutional.
“We argue that the requirements unjustifiably breach a number of Charter rights,” said Parmar. “We will also argue that the government acted beyond the scope of its delegated authority under the Quarantine Act.”
Parmar stated that Section 8 of the Charter offers protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and that the JCCF “will argue that forcing Canadians to disclose their private medical information to CBSA agents on ArriveCan is an unreasonable search.”
Parmar also cited section 9 of the Charter, which protects against arbitrary detention, and said “there is nothing routine about detaining law-abiding citizens at the border and threatening them with arrest and fines in order to get them to use ArriveCan.”
Canadian courts have previously upheld government pandemic restrictions, including the federal government’s quarantine hotel program.
Parmar says Canadian courts “have held that there is a high expectation of privacy in our private medical information” and that the JCCF would very likely appeal a ruling declaring the ArriveCan requirement as constitutional.
“ArriveCan cannot prevent the spread of Covid-19, or any virus for that matter,” said Parmar. “The measures are arbitrary in their nature and in the way that they are implemented.”
She noted that one of the applicants was forced to quarantine over ArriveCAN despite having not left the country, while another was subjected to “egregious” fines after he showed paper proof of full vaccination instead of using the app.
The JCCF is not the only one calling for penalties related to the mandatory ArriveCan requirement to be dropped.
Brantford—Brant Conservative MP Larry Brock wrote a letter to Justice Minister David Lametti this week with several demands, including that the government drop ArriveCan and Quarantine Act fines and issue refunds for the fines it had collected.
Brock’s letter was also signed by Conservative party deputy leader Melissa Lantsman as well as MPs Alex Ruff and Rob Moore.
Documents showed 1.65 million Canadians entered Canada without using ArriveCAN between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31. However, only 190 received fines for non-compliance, according to an August testimony by Public Health Agency of Canada vice-president Jennifer Lutfallah.
In response to the demand that ArriveCan fines be dropped, Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) spokesperson Nathalie Houle told True North that “the current Orders under the Quarantine Act are valid and still in force.”
“The PPSC will continue to prosecute those charged if the Crown determines that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction, and it’s in the public interest to do so.”