A second court challenge to Canada’s quarantine hotels has failed, but a full hearing on the issue is slated for early June.
A federal court has refused to temporarily ban the Canadian government from forcing international air travellers to quarantine at designated hotels when they arrive until they test negative for COVID-19.
While Justice William Pentney, in his ruling April 23 acknowledged the travellers may be “vexed” by the costs and inconvenience of hotel quarantines, he agreed with the government defending the rule that the risks of importing and transmitting variants of the virus may outweigh those inconveniences or infringements of certain Charter rights, adding the “evidence amply demonstrates that the public interest lies in not suspending the challenged measures.”
The ruling did acknowledge some of the plaintiffs’ concerns. “It is necessary… to subject government rationale for any emergency measures to a degree of scrutiny that is proportional to the risk that Charter rights may have been impaired.”
So the case is not completely closed. The Federal Court will have a full trial 01- 03JUN to hear numerous challenges to the government’s health restrictions in response to COVID-19.
This latest ruling in a federal court follows a similar case in Ontario in MAR, where, as reported in Open Jaw, a Superior Court of Justice dismissed the motion for an interim injunction filed by the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) on behalf of five travellers.
The nine plaintiffs in this latest, federal case are represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal group. Its clients travelled under different sets of circumstances and found themselves facing detention in federal facilities upon arrival in Canada.
The Justice Centre noted that while the federal court hasn’t issued the interim injunction, it found that both Charter Section 7 (the right to life liberty and security of person) and Section 9 (the right not to be arbitrarily detained) are engaged by the federal quarantine policies and were serious issues to be tried at the further trial.
“The forced isolation of returning Canadian air travellers is arbitrary, unnecessary, and totalitarian,” Justice Centre litigation director Jay Cameron said in an April 26 news release. “These quarantine hotels and restrictive measures are more consistent with a dictatorship than a free society. We look forward to the full hearing of these issues in early June.”