COVID-19 | Yes you could

COVID-19 |  Yes you could

” We can not. “

It’s Justin Trudeau’s convenient excuse to those who implore him to ban non-essential travel.

According to him, he could not. The Canadian Charter of Rights would prevent that.

He is not the only one to use this excuse.

Last May, the Dr Horacio Arruda used the same argument for not requiring the wearing of the mask. “There are issues with the Charter”, he justified.

There were also, as we discovered later, issues with the number of masks in reserve …

But Quebec ended up moving, which Ottawa refuses to do.

Mr. Trudeau is not lying when he says he fears prosecution. Internally, lawyers are probably warning him. It is their role to prevent problems. This encourages them to look for them everywhere, and to find them more easily than the solutions.

But if a government refrained from adopting any measure that could be challenged in court, it would have a lot of free time.

There is also a risk in doing nothing. In this case, it is counted in number of lives.

As many constitutionalists have repeated in recent days, the travel ban is said to be arguing.

The courts have already confirmed that the health crisis justified restricting freedom of movement. Newfoundland and Labrador was thus able to prevent a woman from attending her mother’s funeral.

The fears of Dr Arruda were not founded either. In Manitoba, the Court confirmed that the compulsory wearing of a mask at school did not violate fundamental freedoms, reminds me Patrick Taillon, professor of law at Laval University.


Ironically, Mr. Trudeau’s current leniency would be turned against him.

To convince the court, Ottawa would have to show that the infringement was reasonable. That everything was tried before banning non-essential travel and that the other solutions would be worse.

However, Canada refuses a compromise, that of imposing a quarantine on travelers in hotels under police surveillance, at their expense, as in Australia and New Zealand.

Why is Justin Trudeau reluctant to tighten the screw? I only have assumptions. Maybe he’s worried about bleeding the airline industry even more, or he doesn’t want to have to compensate the companies. Perhaps he also considers the measure inapplicable.

One thing is certain, it is not by electoralism. The Liberals know that public opinion is against them. Just as the reluctance to close the land border with the United States last March had hurt them.

In defense of Mr. Trudeau, it is not easy to define what constitutes an “essential” trip. For example, François Legault allowed his deputy Youri Chassin to fly to Peru in order to organize the immigration of his spouse. Essential or not? Good question.

Establishing criteria would be complex, but it would be worth a try. And if the definition is too generous, it would still be better than nothing. A perforated net offers better protection than if the travelers are allowed to leave in the open air.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau toughened his tone. He warned travelers that action could be taken “without notice”. In other words: you go at your own risk.

But for now, the threat doesn’t seem to scare anyone.


There is a parallel to this with the curfew imposed on the homeless.

Like Mr. Trudeau with travelers, Mr. Legault says he relies on the experts.

Giving an exemption to the homeless would make the curfew difficult to enforce. People of bad faith will claim to be homeless, he fears.

The police prefer a general ban. Anyone arrested is thus guilty by default. They don’t need to check if she has a permanent address.

I don’t want to judge the police from the comfort of my office. They are asked to play social workers with marginalized populations, when that does not correspond to their training.

Mr. Legault said he trusted them not to give tickets to the homeless, but he could also rely on their judgment to apply an exemption.

Of course, a minority of idiots would defy the curfew by pretending to be homeless. They would challenge their ticket, but there is no saying they would win.

But the current decree also carries a risk. At the time of this writing, I do not know the details of the small number of tickets issued to the homeless. “But when we have a complete picture, it will be too late,” warns Annie Savage, executive director of the Montreal Network for Single and Homeless Persons. And it is already too late, in fact. One person died. Raphaël André, an Innu from the community of Matimekush-Lac John, on the North Shore.

This brings us back to the experts and the famous pros and cons calculation. It was presented as if it were an exact science.

However, we cannot quantify the advantages and disadvantages. It is not neutral mathematics. Evaluation is also done according to values ​​and principles. It is political.

In the case of travelers, Trudeau shows his reluctance to infringe on individual rights. And with the homeless, Mr. Legault shows his tendency to prioritize collective rights. Its formula is perhaps more effective in fighting the pandemic, but it could weaken the most vulnerable.

MM. Legault and Trudeau were told, “We can’t”, and they accepted this recommendation. Among other things, because it was compatible with their sensitivity.

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