Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia moves to lift COVID-19 injunction banning large gatherings

Just over a week before it was to be challenged in court, the Nova Scotia government is moving to end its Covid-19 injunction against large public gatherings.

Province took legal step in May ahead of a large anti-mask rally planned in Halifax

The group that planned the anti-mask rally in Halifax in May cancelled the event, but a handful of people not wearing masks gathered anyway. Police issued a number of tickets. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

Just over a week before it's to be challenged in court, the Nova Scotia government is moving to end an injunction against large public gatherings that was put in place two months ago ahead of an anti-mask rally.

The province is expected in court June 22 to ask a judge to lift the injunction, the government said Friday in a news release.

That's eight days before the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is to argue the injunction breaches the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for its sweeping ban on gatherings.

The CCLA welcomed news the injunction would be lifted, but said Friday in a statement it "was never necessary or justified at law."

Injunction granted in May

The injunction was granted May 14, the day before a large anti-mask rally was planned for the slopes of Citadel Hill in Halifax during the province's third wave of the pandemic. 

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

The CCLA intends to argue against the injunction in court next month and said it still wants the hearing to go ahead as scheduled.

"The CCLA will still seek to have the original injunction order reconsidered at a hearing before the court on June 30 so that these issues can be considered, and so that it doesn't happen again," it said.

Rankin defends injunction

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin said the time is right to lift the injunction.

"Now that we're in Phase 2 of our reopening plan, it's safer to gather outside so now we no longer need the injunction in place," Rankin said at an unrelated announcement Friday in Mabou, N.S.

Rankin defended putting the injunction in place, saying he is "absolutely convinced" it was the right move.

"We kept our province safe," he said. 

"We were able to make sure that we had appropriate deterrents in place, we increased the fine because early on in the shutdown we had some groups that were openly defying the rules."