Nova Scotia

Court challenge set for Nova Scotia COVID-19 injunction

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is being given a chance to challenge Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 injunction in court.

Injunction granted May 14, the day before anti-mask rally was planned for Citadel Hill

Police made arrests at Citadel Hill for violations of the Health Protection Act on May 15. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is being given a chance to challenge Nova Scotia's COVID-19 injunction in court.

But the challenge will not be heard until the end of this month, by which time many of the conditions leading to the injunction are supposed to have eased, according to a timetable established by provincial health officials.

The injunction was granted on May 14, the day before a large anti-mask rally was planned for the slopes of Citadel Hill.

The court granted the injunction on an ex parte basis, meaning people who might oppose it weren't told ahead of time and did not get to attend the court hearing.

'Matter is complex'

A lawyer for the association appeared in Nova Scotia Supreme Court Friday morning to request standing to oppose the injunction. It was granted, but the court refused an additional request to schedule the hearing for June 14.

"This matter is complex," lawyer Duane Eddy said on behalf of the attorney general.

"It involves several legal issues along with some evidentiary issues being raised by the CCLA, however the urgency is not equivalent, in the attorney general's respectful submission."

"I don't think it sits properly in the Crown's mouth to say it was urgent for us to get this order ex parte, but it's not urgent for the respondents against whom it applies to have it reheard," lawyer Nasha Nijhawan countered on behalf of the civil liberties group.

Fundamental rights

Justice Timothy Gabriel told the parties that the issues in this case are some of the most important courts have to consider because they are fundamental rights.

"The issues with which the parties must deal in this matter are very important," Gabriel said.

"But I do not think that the urgency is there, such that it would require us to jump the queue, so to speak and deal with the matter on as expedited a basis as CCLA wishes."

The hearing is now set for June 30.

In addition to briefs and arguments, the CCLA will get a chance to question the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, on the affidavit he filed in support of the original injunction application.

Eddy said Strang will also file a supplemental affidavit to update the court on what has changed since May 14.