François Legault is putting pressure on Justin Trudeau, but he too could impose a quarantine at the hotel for travelers, under the Public health law.
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According to constitutional expert Anthony Beauséjour, Quebec can force the isolation of people for health purposes, as long as it does not try to “block or delay access to Canadian territory”.
However, Quebec would have to modify the law if it wants to make tourists pay accommodation costs and this maneuver could be considered unconstitutional, but Me Beauséjour believes that it is playable.
The CAQ government is urging Ottawa to ban non-essential travel, or to subject travelers arriving to the country to quarantine in a hotel room, at their expense. Above all, there is concern about an outbreak of a variant of the coronavirus.
Last week, Mr. Legault threatened to act: “We are considering […] to take measures ourselves at airports in Quebec, ”he said.
Listen to the political column of Rémi Nadeau, head of the parliamentary office in Quebec, on QUB radio:
Since then, however, radio silence. On Tuesday, the national director of public health, Horacio Arruda, said he did not know if the Public health law of Quebec allowed him to act, and that he would have to consult lawyers.
The newspaper did the exercise. According to Me Beauséjour, research coordinator of the Institute for Research on Self-Determination of Peoples and National Independence (IRAI), the Government of Quebec would “potentially have a fairly simple and solid argument to put forward” to force the isolation of travelers in hotels.
The legal question: quarantine is a federal responsibility, just like border control. The federal government “limits entry” to the country, and the provincial, in the case of an infectious disease, can “limit movement”.
Of course, there is no certainty, adds the lawyer, and the measure could be considered unconstitutional. But there are precedents.
“We also find a perfect parallel with the SARS crisis in 2003. The federal government then applied the quarantine law, just as Ontario had ordered a quarantine for the same people covered by the Ottawa regulations” , he says.
This is not the only confusion between the two governments on the application of quarantine.
The Legault government says that the Sûreté du Québec cannot issue tickets to travelers who ignore quarantine, while the Canada Health Agency has indicated the opposite in Duty.
– With Vincent Larin, QMI Agency