Court grants injunction to silence honking in downtown Ottawa for 10 days
Judge said taking protesters' horns away does not rob them of their right to protest
An Ottawa judge has granted an interim injunction seeking to silence the honking horns that have plagued residents of downtown Ottawa for the past 11 days.
"Tooting a horn is not an expression of any great thought I'm aware of," said Justice Hugh McLean during a court hearing in Ottawa Monday.
The temporary injunction order is effective immediately and is meant to silence the horns at all hours for the next 10 days. It covers the zone north of the Queensway, the city's main east-west artery.
Lawyer Paul Champ said air horns and train horns are blasted at sound levels of 105 to 120 decibels for prolonged periods and can cause permanent hearing damage.
"Every hour this goes by, there is harm to the people of Centretown," he told the hearing.
Keith Wilson, a lawyer representing three protest organizers named in the suit, argued that his clients — Tamara Lich, Benjamin Dichter and Chris Barber — are not personally responsible for the noise.
He also said that what Ottawa is experiencing is a grassroots protest against pandemic measures.
"There is more evidence before you that downtown Ottawa residents don't feel they're being harmed and this is part of the democratic process," he said.
The judge said that while the participants have a right to protest, taking their horns away would not rob them of that right.
The request for an injunction came out of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday by lawyer Champ on behalf of his client Zexi Li, a 21-year-old public servant.
WATCH | Injunction granted to silence honking in downtown Ottawa:
It sought an injunction prohibiting the defendants, or any other participant in the anti-vaccine mandate convoy protest, from using vehicle horns in the vicinity of downtown.
According to the order, police are now authorized to arrest and remove anyone they believe is aware of the order and is contravening it. They also have the discretion to release anyone from arrest if that person agrees in writing to obey the order.
The defendants are also ordered to publicize the injunction on social media.
The court is adjourned until Feb. 16, at which point all sides will discuss continuing the order.