VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it doesn’t think the premier’s suggestion of an interprovincial travel ban can be accomplished.
The CCLA’s Michael Bryant says before the province can think of even adopting such a measure, it has to demonstrate that significant outbreaks are due to travellers.
“They would need some evidence that shows that the reason that the numbers are going up is because of Albertans coming into British Columbia,” he says.
BC travel ban placed on desk of @Dave_Eby by @jjhorgan. What’s the specific evidence justifying its necessity? If not, then no way it’s constitutional. If so, are there less intrusive ways of limiting mobility rights, like prov quarantine? Use scalpel not axe on Charter rts.
— Canadian Civil Liberties Association (@cancivlib) January 14, 2021
Bryant points out the constitution defends the right for people to travel within Canada.
“B.C. is not a sovereign country. It’s a province. Provinces don’t have any experience in patrolling borders, and it’s a recipe for abuse of power in our view,” he explains.
“The public health principle of precautionary principle suggests you do everything you can to prevent the spread of COVID. But that has to fit within our constitution which sits above the precautionary principle. And even within the public health precautionary principle, there are limits.”
He also says B.C. should attempt to put a mandatory-quarantine requirement for out-of-province travellers, before banning them altogether.
“B.C. does not have a quarantine requirement in place for Canadians. That’s a restriction on mobility but less of a restriction than a travel ban. So they would need to put that in place and show that it’s not working before they could even consider a travel ban,” he explains.
The CCLA’s take comes as Premier John Horgan said he was looking at what can be done to prevent Canadians outside B.C. from visiting.
Over the holidays, a number of B.C. communities saw out-of-province visitors. Whistler, for example, hosted guests from across Canada.
“We have been trying our best to find a way to meet that objective of the public in a way that’s consistent with the Charter and other fundamental rights here in Canada, so legal advice is what we sought,” Horgan said, who admitted there are still challenges “when it comes to mobility within Canada.”
But Bryant adds, “We can do a lot more together than we can do apart.”
– With files from Travis Prasad