Regina judge shoots down argument that public health order was invalid

Regina judge shoots down argument that public health order was invalid

Breadcrumb Trail connects Saskatchewan

Tamara Lavoie, who again failed to appear in court, was convicted of yet another breach of a pandemic-related public health order

Regina Provincial Court Judge Murray Hinds went back on another judge’s earlier decision by dismissing arguments that a previous order related to the public health pandemic was invalid. Photo by Brandon Harder /jpg Content of article

An attempt to persuade a judge in Regina to go against the law on the validity of a pandemic-related health order has failed.

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“The motion is denied,” Regina Provincial Court Judge Murray Hinds wrote at the end of his decision released Friday. It came after the efforts of attorney Elaine Anderson, who is representing a number of people accused of failing to comply with a public health order related to COVID-19.

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While Anderson had acknowledged that other Saskatchewan judges had already made decisions on the issue, on Jan. 20 she asked Hinds to reconsider it based on previous cases that she said had not been considered.

In essence, Anderson and her clients, including activist and former political candidate Mark Friesen, hoped that the public health ordinance could be overturned on legal grounds, meaning the associated charges would fall as a result.

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QC Attorney Noah Wernikowski of the province’s Constitutional Law Division addressed the issues raised by Anderson, but had argued that the motion should be dismissed solely on the basis of previous decisions.

This argument was based on the idea that if a question has already been decided by a judge, another judge of the same court should follow the precedent unless there are “valid” reasons not to. This is referred to as “jurisdiction”.

This practice was previously followed on this issue when a Saskatoon judge overturned a decision by a Moose Jaw judge.

In his decision, Hinds did the same. He wrote that judicial courtesy promotes legal certainty and predictability, preventing “endless litigation” over the same legal issues.

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There are only three reasons for a deviation, he wrote, even if an earlier decision: was undermined by a higher authority, achieved through negligence or carelessness, or was not fully taken into account.

Ex-Health Minister Reiter says in the Friesen health order process from Friesen, Lavoie is among the accused of allegedly violating pandemic health orders

Anderson had argued that Moose Jaw’s earlier decision was made through negligence or carelessness — not by the judge, but by herself and the Crown Counsel arguing the case.

Copies of all relevant past cases were not provided to the judge in that case, she argued.

Hinds did not take that argument and was unconvinced that Moose Jaw’s decision would have been different had the judge received the case law that Anderson felt was relevant.

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“I would follow that decision even if I were under no obligation to do so,” Hinds wrote after saying he agreed with the rationale in the Moose Jaw decision, which addressed the same issues.

Given his own written ruling on the matter, Hinds spent little court time on Friday dealing with the issue, instead moving on to the matters at hand, including an indictment of violating the public health order that has been brought against protester Tamara Lavoie of the area Regina was faced who should go to testing.

This file photo shows Tamara Lavoie streaming live from her parked car at the corner of Albert Street and 20th Avenue in Regina as police began removing parked vehicles in protest of vaccination orders on Sunday, February 6, 2022. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader Post

This was in reference to an allegation that the woman, who has frequently spoken out against COVID-19-related public health measures, violated a public health order by attending a gathering of more than 10 on February 20, 2021 people took part.

However, in keeping with trend, Lavoie was not in court on Friday.

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She was called by the court clerk on the courthouse’s public address system, but did not show up.

As a result, if Lavoie made an effort to appear, Hinds, who had previously avoided doing so, granted Crown Attorney Dana Brule’s request for a default conviction – no first for Lavoie.

The crown asked the judge to impose a total fine of $2,800, equal to voluntary payment amounts listed on tickets for similar offenses.

Since Lavoie was not present and chose to represent herself without the assistance of counsel, no objection was raised on her behalf in this regard.

Hinds imposed the fine as requested.

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