British Columbia

Legal advocacy group fights B.C. government's COVID-19 rules on protests and places of worship

A legal advocacy group is challenging the B.C. government's COVID-19 restrictions on worship services and public protests, arguing they violate people's rights and freedoms.

Challenge based on several sections of the charter, including freedom of conscience and religion

Some churches in B.C.'s Fraser Valley and Okanagan have argued that restricting gatherings of their congregation violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack/Facebook)

A legal advocacy group is challenging the British Columbia government's COVID-19 restrictions on worship services and public protests, arguing they violate people's rights and freedoms.

A petition filed by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms also asks the B.C. Supreme Court to dismiss tickets of up to $2,300 for alleged violations of the public health orders.

The Calgary-based organization says it represents over a dozen individuals and faith communities.

The challenge is based on several sections of the charter, including freedom of conscience and religion, and freedom of peaceful assembly.

British Columbia's Ministry of Health could not immediately be reached for comment.

The centre says in a news release that while the government allows hundreds to gather in big-box stores, attending worship services has been prohibited despite groups going to extraordinary lengths to comply with the guidelines issued by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

It is also representing a number of Ontario pastors and church elders who have been charged for holding church services in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act. 

In fact, the centre has been in a number of legal battles against several provinces for the various lockdown measures they have implemented.

According to the organization's website, in December it filed a court challenge against the Alberta government for "cancelling Christmas." That same month, the centre filed legal action against the Manitoba government for its public health orders there.

The Justice Centre is also representing a Calgary man who was issued two tickets for attending an anti-lockdown protest. 

With files from CBC News

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