Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Dr. Henry confident of health orders legality, will await conclusion to larger case before the courts following today's ruling at BC Supreme Court


Photo from Courts of BC website

Dr. Bonnie Henry has provided her response to a decision from the BC Supreme Court today that ruled on a court injunction from the province related to gatherings in places of worship in the Chilliwack area. 

 Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson dismissed the province's application for an injunction on the three churches not observing the prohibition on in person services. 

Toward his findings the Justice noted:

I am left to wonder what would be achieved by the issuance of an injunction in this case. If it were granted and not adhered to, would the administration of justice yet again be brought into disrepute because the B.C. Prosecution Service considers that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute those who refused to adhere to the orders sought from this Court?

Given the other remedies available to the respondents, I have reservations that an injunction alone, without enforcement by the B.C. Prosecution Service, would overcome the deeply held beliefs of the petitioners and their devotees. 

Taking into account the decision in Sager, and the other means of enforcement open to the respondents, I find that the balance of convenience does not favour the respondents in this case, and dismiss their application for an injunction. 

 To be clear, I am not condoning the petitioners’ conduct in contravention of the orders that they challenge, but find that the injunctive relief sought by the respondents should not be granted.  

The full text of the decision from today can be reviewed here.

Dr. Bonnie Henry from 
Tuesday's Gov't COVID 
briefing (photo from BC Gov't
Following that announcement the province's top public health official released this statement, which expressed her respect for the work of the court, but noted that the legal orders remain in place while the larger legal challenge over events and gatherings is heard.

“I respect the chief justice’s decision on a procedural motion within a much larger case that goes beyond today, and I thank the court for its full consideration of this matter. “Since the very start of the pandemic, the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and leaders across government have had ongoing dialogue with faith leaders and had many respectful and productive conversations with them on how best to protect their congregations. 

Public health orders are one of many tools we use to protect the health of the public in B.C. They are ones that we use judiciously and only as far as necessary. Based on the science and evidence, I put public health orders in place to protect faith leaders, their congregations and the communities in which they worship. These are legal orders that apply to everyone in our province, and most churches are following them. I thank each of them.

Three churches have filed a charter challenge of the provincial events and gatherings order. While this legal challenge is heard, everyone must continue to follow the orders to protect themselves and their communities."

That larger court challenge from the three Fraser Valley Churches will be heard in March.

The provinces listings of current Public Health orders can be reviewed here.

For more notes on the response from the Province on issues of COVID-19 see our archive page here.

No comments:

Post a Comment