Calgary anti-lockdown rally

Courtesy CBC

Police forces in Alberta have issued a warning to COVID-19 protesters this weekend – a new court injunction obtained by the AHS has cleared the way for them to start making arrests.

The Calgary Police Service and the RCMP issued almost simultaneous news releases Friday night warnings arrest could start happening as early as tomorrow.

“On May 6, the Court of Queen’s Bench granted a pre-emptive injunction against all planned events in contravention of public health orders. The injunction essentially defines these events as illegal public gatherings that do not comply with masking, attendance limits and physical distancing requirements,” said the RCMP release.

“Law enforcement agencies can act immediately under this injunction, without the necessity of Alberta Health Services attendance. There are a variety of ways to enforce this order, including the ability to issue tickets, fines and criminal charges to individuals who are breaking public health orders by organizing and/or attending these events. This can include arrest and removal of any person who has notice of this Order and chooses to act in violation of it.”

There have been weekly anti-lockdown marches in Calgary for weeks now. But for the most part CPS officers have only watched from a distance, handing out the occasional ticket to protest organizers.

But the CPS, in their statement, also warned of looming arrests.

“Alberta Health Services has obtained a Court of Queen’s Bench Order that applies to gatherings including protests, demonstrations and rallies – this is a significant development,” said the CPS statement.

“This Order imposes new restrictions on organizers of protests and demonstrations requiring compliance with public health orders in effect relating to masking, physical distancing, and attendance limits. In the event of non-compliance, the Order provides enforcement powers, including powers of arrest, for those that are organizing, promoting and attending any public gathering where public health orders are not being followed.”

“We continue to work with our partners and the community to stop the spread of COVID-19. We ask those who may be considering organizing or participating in any outdoor events to ensure they are familiar with public health order requirements and to do their part to prevent further spread of the virus.”

It’s all part of the same order that declared a weekend protest at the Whistle Stop Cafe illegal, even though it hasn’t happened yet.

It was a pre-emptive injunction against, Chris Scott, the owner of Whistle Stop, because the restaurant plans to host a rally over the upcoming weekend called the “Save Alberta Campout Protest.” The injunction was granted at the request of Alberta Health Services (AHS), an agency under Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Last week, the RCMP raided the establishment and carted away all its booze. On Wednesday, the RCMP and AHS officials showed up en masse and padlocked the building.

Undeterred, Scott continued cooking pancakes, making burgers and serving coffee to his customers in the parking lot outside his shuttered restaurant. The UCP government recently banned outdoor patio service for restaurants.

He and others, outraged by the province’s lockdown regulations, planned to protest the closure with a campout over the weekend adjacent to the restaurant.

But the AHS, which sought the injunction, said the judge ruled it illegal because it would not comply with public health restrictions on mandatory masking, attendance limits, and social distancing.

“AHS has taken this step due to the ongoing risk to Albertans created by those breaching COVID-19 public health restrictions,” it said in a statement.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief

Dave Naylor is News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief of the Western Standard based in the Calgary Headquarters. He served as City Editor of the Calgary Sun & covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years.

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