Alberta Politics
Heights Baptist Church in Medicine Hat, one of the churches seeking an injunction against Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions (Photo: Google).

Calgary judge makes short work of bid for injunction to block COVID-19 restrictions

Posted on December 22, 2020, 1:57 am
6 mins

A Calgary superior court judge yesterday made short work of the bid by the so-called Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms to get an emergency injunction blocking public health restrictions on activities likely to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season. 

In a hearing that could be watched online, Madam Justice Anne Kirker of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench said lawyers for the JCCF and a Calgary law firm had failed to establish grounds for an injunction to immediately lift the restrictions ordered by Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw last week. 

Madam Justice Anne Kirker (Photo: Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench).

Northside Baptist Church in Calgary, Heights Baptist Church in Medicine Hat, and three individuals represented by the JCCF and the Rath & Company law firm had argued that their constitutionally protected religious and associational rights were infringed by emergency public health restrictions on crowded activities like religious services with the potential to turn into COVID-19 super-spreader events. 

In a rather overwrought news release announcing the effort to seek the injunction, the legal advocacy organization associated with social conservative causes accused Dr. Hinshaw of “attempting to cancel Christmas and outlaw all forms of peaceful protest.” 

Unsurprisingly, the JCCF says it will persist with its application to seek a ruling that Dr. Hinshaw’s measures violate constitutional rights without being justified in a free and democratic society as permitted by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

The Calgary-based JCCF is probably best known for its 2018 effort to overturn the NDP government’s legislation protecting students who joined school gay-straight alliances, which had been allowed to exist by an earlier law introduced and passed by the previous Progressive Conservative government. 

While that action was not successful either, it certainly helped the United Conservative Party led by Premier Jason Kenney mobilize its social conservative base and win the election in April 2019. 

Once in office, the UCP moved swiftly to roll back the NDP’s supports for LGBTQ students and gay-straight alliances, so while the JCCF did not succeed in court, it has to be counted as a political victory for the group and the religious right.

In 2017, speaking at a JCCF event in a pitch for donations to the group, Mr. Kenney lauded his long-time friend and political ally, JCCF founder and president John Carpay, comparing his work to the struggle of American civil rights icon Rosa Parks. This prompted embarrassed eye rolls across Alberta’s political spectrum. 

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw (Photo: Government of Alberta).

In addition to their past support for pro-life groups opposed to women’s reproductive rights, both men are also former employees of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Mr. Carpay ran unsuccessfully for both the federal Reform Party and the Wildrose Party before joining the UCP. 

When Mr. Carpay controversially compared the rainbow Pride flag to the swastika flag of Nazi Germany, there were calls for the JCCF leader to be expelled from the UCP.

As far as anyone knows, however, Mr. Carpay remains a UCP member, although now that the JCCF is defending protesters at anti-mask rallies potentially embarrassing to Mr. Kenney’s government and divisive within his caucus, it’s possible they aren’t as close as they once were. 

It can be inferred from the limited information available to the public that a significant portion of the JCCF’s funding comes from donors associated with the right-wing funding network.

Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms founder and President John Carpay (Photo: JCCF.com).

As reported here in 2018, the JCCF’s 2016 annual report published on the group’s website states that the organization is supported by 2,500 donors. A button now on the website promises a link to the group’s 2018 annual report, but did not function last night. 

In a website page entitled “Donor Recognition,” the JCCF continues to say it has received “generous support” from the Aurea Foundation, the Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation, and the Donner Canadian Foundation, all groups associated with providing funds to various right-wing causes. 

The JCCF has been granted charitable status by the Canadian Revenue Agency, and according to its most recent report to the CRA it had total revenue of $2 million in 2018, including $1.6 million in receipted donations. It reported spending just under $365,000 on fund-raising activities in the reporting period.

Meanwhile, scuffles broke out between demonstrators and police at a rally protesting COVID-19 restrictions in Calgary on Saturday. A police officer was struck with a hockey stick, and two people were charged. 

There were 1,240 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Alberta yesterday, and nine additional deaths from the disease. There are 795 people in hospital with the disease, 151 in intensive care, putting the health system under considerable strain. Dr. Hinshaw said the restrictions are slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but that the situation remains perilous in the province. 

22 Comments to: Calgary judge makes short work of bid for injunction to block COVID-19 restrictions

  1. jerrymacgp

    December 22nd, 2020

    Someone, I don’t recall who, said earlier this year that “the Charter of Rights is not a suicide pact”: saving lives in a global pandemic would certainly be grounds for reasonably limiting freedoms and are “demonstrably justified in a free & democratic society”. I’m glad the judge saw this. The JCCF can go pound sand.

    Reply
  2. Political Ranger

    December 22nd, 2020

    Damn these people to hell!
    We have such a level of real world problems and this nutjobbery does nothing to help. What is wrong with these people? How can any sane person in the 21rst Century maintain this foolish nonsense?

    Reply
    • Neil Lore

      December 22nd, 2020

      The problem is that they ARE sane, and they ARE educated, specifically, in rhetoric. Rhetorical training is withheld from Canadians unless they go to university for political science, law, philosophy, or business. Lawyers can be reasonably expected to know when they are making spurious, fallacious arguments, in much the same way that plumbers can be reasonably expected to know when they are fixing a toilet. Most high school graduates don’t know what words like “fallacy” or “rhetoric” mean, not because they are stupid, but because that knowledge has been withheld from them. Many anti-maskers are victims of epistemic injustice – important, relevant information has been deliberately withheld from them, and it is limiting their ability to accurately perceive reality and make wise choices.

      If we included rhetoric in our high school curriculums, it would be much more difficult for politicians to lead us around by the nose. In my opinion, this is why it is withheld from us.

      At any rate, if the Kenneys and Carpays of the world were crazy it would have been exposed by this point in their lives. They are clearly not stupid, else they wouldn’t have been able to succeed as lawyers and politicians. So if they aren’t crazy and they aren’t stupid, then they understand what they are doing, and they understand what the consequences will be.

      Funny. If John Carpay punched someone, he could, in theory, be incarcerated. He is causing far more harm to far more people, yet the law cannot touch him.

      Maybe the people who are in charge of society…. shouldn’t be?

      Reply
      • Kang

        December 22nd, 2020

        Yes Neil: I agree that Kenney and company are intelligent and know exactly what they are doing. And they do have a sense of impunity. So, when do the next of kin of their victims start private prosecutions for criminal negligence causing death? With a little help from her friends the late Dr. Martha Kostuch filed private prosecutions over fisheries habitat that ultimately changed the laws for the better. In Italy families are now going after the politicians there who showed similar indifference to public health measures they had a duty to respect and support.
        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/22/relatives-of-italian-covid-victims-to-file-lawsuit-against-leading-politicians

        Reply
        • Neil Lore

          December 29th, 2020

          That is encouraging! Hopefully the same kind of thing will happen here, eventually.

          Reply
      • Political Ranger

        December 24th, 2020

        Thx for the response Neil,
        A couple thoughts:

        First, if kkkenney and tRump and those church ministers know what they are doing and are not stupid, if they are not blindly flailing about but are deliberate in their actions, then this is the definition of Evil. If your conclusions are correct these people are Evil. The Bible tells us and common logic supports that the human community must eliminate the Evil in their midst; drive a stake through its heart and kill it!
        I’m not against this but I’m not sure the wider community of sane individuals is ready. But we have Evil at the top of leadership in this jurisdiction.

        And that brings me to my second observation:
        I don’t buy the argument that the common people are the way they are because they’re not educated enough. Rhetoric and linguistic abilities are required to successfully operate in the moral and ethical ‘grey’ areas but here today with these people it’s black and white. No dilemmas, no quandary, it’s either right or it is wrong.
        These people say that if it’s good for them then it’s good enough for the community. Wrong! Emphatically wrong! These people are self-involved, greedy, small-minded, mean-spirited, selfish and short-sighted. In short; white trash. Human communities are full of these kind of people all over the world, all through time. They are human but they are the worst of us. And education only makes them worse and more dangerous, not better.
        However, there are people everywhere in all times who know the difference between right and wrong. With or without the benefits of education. These people have no limits on their ability to perceive reality or to make wise choices because they are good people. It’s circular, I know, but good people generally make good choices. It’s one of those human community things we celebrate especially at this time.

        Problem is, here in Alberta we are led by Evil people who are supported by white trash. The remaining population are normal, sane good people. Just not enough of them to influence the outcomes.

        Reply
        • Neil Lore

          December 24th, 2020

          VERY interesting post. Ten-years-ago-me would have said something like, “Preach it brotha!” For what it’s worth, I’ve believed that the people running society are capital-E Evil since I was a teenager. I agree that the wider community is not ready to define or confront Evil. Part of the problem is that defining Evil requires defining Good, which is actually a much easier Theological problem than it is a Philosophical problem. Put another way, if we can take as given the existence of God, then we can Divine Command Theory our way to Good with (relative) ease. The problem is that Science, the allmighty force that gave us miracles like VCRs and then *made them obsolete*, keeps turning up no evidence to support God, and combined with the sins of organized religions, lots of reasonable adults are not turning to God to answer the problems of Good and Evil. Without a Deity to ground Goodness (or even reality), we are left trying to create our own, and “Good” becomes an empty variable that we can define however we want. Please note I ain’t saying whether we have a God or not, and I don’t want to disrespect folks on either side of that fence. I’m just exploring how the world appears to people depending on what they believe.

          I studied metaethics a while ago. One ethical system is called Moral Egoism, or sometimes, Ethical Egoism. It states that “the right thing to do is to be *effectively* selfish.” Under this moral system, a person who helps another at their own expense is acting immorally. No one openly confesses to following this ethical system. I think it describes the blathering orange cancer down south perfectly, along with most successful Capitalists. I think that, if you gave 100 people a list of all major ethical systems and told them to pick one to call “Evil”, 90 would pick this one.

          Another ethical system is called Virtue Ethics (“the right thing to do is be a good person, because good people will make good decisions”), and our society doesn’t value it anymore. In my opinion, this is because virtuous people are harder for Capitalists to exploit. There are things that Utilitarianism (“the greatest pleasure for the greatest amount at the lowest cost”) and Deontology (“the right thing to do is follow the right rules”) can do that Virtue cannot, but there are things Virtue can do that cannot be done by any other means.

          You make a very good point about educating Evil people empowering them to be more effectively Evil, rather than “curing” them of their Evil, and it is a problem I tend to overlook. I think that educating the amoral majority will enable them to identify Evil people more accurately, and as a result, they will be harder for Evil people to manipulate and exploit.

          In my opinion, only a small percentage of humans really care very much about Good and Evil – most humans want to be warm and safe and happy and loved and comfortable, and only value morality as it relates to those ends. If you structure society in such a way that people are usually rewarded for Good things and usually punished for Evil things, then most people will be Good. However, this is like a child behaving so that Santa will bring them treats. They don’t actually desire Good for its own sake, they desire it for the reward they believe will accompany it. Put another way, they aren’t being “Good” as much as they are being “bribed”.

          The corollary is that if you structure society in a way that Evil people are usually rewarded and Good people are usually punished, the amoral majority will do more Evil things, not because they are Evil, but because they desire the rewards they believe will accompany their Evil acts. I believe that Capitalism is one way to structure society to reward and reinforce Evil actions.

          At any rate, I believe that all populations produce a small fraction whose nature (for lack of a better word) is inclined towards morality. Those are the people who are born capable of Good and Evil, and they will work towards their chosen end of the morality spectrum whether they are rewarded or punished. Those are the people who are competing to push differing views of society.

          However, I think that some other people can be taught. As you say:

          “Rhetorical and linguistic abilities are required to successfully operate in the moral and ethical ‘grey’ areas but here today with these people its black and white.”

          This is what I mean when I talk about how education can help people become more moral. I think morality, for some, is a thing they were born with the desire for. For others, it is like a teachable skill. There are people who operate in a simplistic, “black and white” world… because they lack the rhetorical and linguistic education necessary to operate in the moral and ethical ‘grey’ areas. Not everyone has the acumen to grapple with the story of Abraham and Isaac and come out of it with moral insight. Not everyone has the desire to do the emotional, intellectual and spiritual heavy lifting required to tell fact from fallacy. Not everyone inherited the accumulated advantage necessary to succeed at these endeavors. Not everyone has enough leisure time to learn abstract philosophical systems that will not directly impact their earning potential.

          I believe that being moral is like slam dunking a basketball. More people than you would think are capable of learning this skill. Maybe even as much as 40% of humanity. However, if you don’t learn the correct exercises to do, along with the correct nutrition, hydration and sleep hygiene, and you don’t have the luxury of having lots of spare time and extra effort to use working very hard practicing them from a young age, you are very unlikely to be part of that 40%. I know a guy who is 6″7 and can’t dunk. I know another guy who is 5″10 and can.

          However, it’s not reasonable to blame a person who is 4″10 for not being able to slam dunk. By the same token, a sufficiently disadvantaged person cannot reasonably be blamed for failing to reach their moral potential.

          Sorry, this became a giant essay :/

          Reply
          • Political Ranger

            December 25th, 2020

            Yes, that is only one problem with shouting out “EVIL!” in public, people wax philosophic and do go on about it.

            Fact is, that like shouting “FIRE”, there is usually a real problem at hand.
            In Alberta, we have kkkenney and his merry mob of slobbering bandits, right here, right now! You can call them anything you might like to but they are up to no-good.
            In my books someone, anyone, who steps up to say, “hey, I’m here to help y’all!” I’m going to support and offer thanks. After one or 2 tries if that same person keeps making things worse I’ll ask him, or her, to move on.
            If that person continues with presenting problems but calling them solutions then I think they might be a bit touched in the head. Stupid, you might say. Maybe just incompetent, another kind of stupid.
            If that person finds glee and celebration with the wreckage and despair his, or her problems, posed as solutions, are causing then I call them Bad People.

            Are Bad People confused or deliberate? I don’t know.
            But the fire has to be put out, the damage contained so that the rest of the community can get on with it. Depending on the effort required determines the culpability in my books.

            Kkkenny, tRump and their kind have worked very hard and very long to get to the position where they can cause such great damage – and they both revel in it. In my book, that is Evil.

          • Neil Lore

            December 29th, 2020

            Thanks Political Ranger, I just got some time off work so haven’t been online. Merry belated xmas and a happy new year!

  3. Janna

    December 22nd, 2020

    I suspect Carpay and Kenney are as close as ever. Carpay is doing what Kenney can’t as premier.

    Reply
  4. Neil Lore

    December 22nd, 2020

    Wish I could say I was surprised to hear that Kenney and Carpay are buds. The more I learn about Carpay, the less I like him. The frustrating thing about this is that the court can dismiss his case, but the headlines he has gathered will play into the narrative that anti-maskers have established. Frustrating that wealthy, privileged people get to inflict harm without repercussion.

    I know it’s unwise to attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity, but I honestly don’t think Kenney is stupid. It seems very implausible that he genuinely thought his actions to this point would have been effective in addressing COVID. I haven’t seen any evidence that Kenney is stupid, but I have seen considerable evidence that he lacks empathy and is ideologically opposed to the idea of public health care. It’s easier to believe that he is hoping to sabotage the health care system and kill of a bunch of poor people than to believe that he genuinely thought his actions were going to create the best results for the greatest amount of people.

    Remember what happened when Trump got COVID? He got a taxpayer-funded helicopter ride to the some of the best healthcare on the planet and he didn’t pay a dime for it. Perhaps Kenney knows that if he, or someone he loves, gets COVID, they will get similar treatment. It is only the poor who will suffer and die, and that’s what poor people are there for, right?

    Reply
  5. Dave

    December 22nd, 2020

    If this were Stampede Wrestling, perhaps the billing could be Rosa Parks Carpay vs. Margaret Thatcher Kenney. Although, it might not be much of a battle as I expect if Kenney were not leading the government, he probably would be supporting or joining in Carpay’s challenge. The reason Carpay probably remains in the UCP, although I agree things might be at least a bit strained right now, is that he and Kenney have been and likely are generally on the same wavelength.

    I think the most ironic thing about all this is the delay in Kenney acting in October or November is probably one thing that led to the need for more stringent measures around Christmas time. I doubt Kenney intended it play out this way, but his earlier actions in part have led to “cancelling” Christmas.

    Of course Christmas is not really cancelled, that is a bit overwrought, but we will all have to find different ways to celebrate and enjoy it this year while the Grinch of COVID remains within our midst.

    Reply
  6. Abs

    December 22nd, 2020

    Carpay and Kenney are two heads of the same beast. They are signalling what’s coming next.

    And in case anyone missed it, after weeks of tut-tutting about anti-mask protests in downtown Calgary, the city police finally appeared to do something about it. They seemed reluctant to do more than issue a few fines previously.

    They took out a Taser at an outdoor community skating rink, too, but there were no reports of Tasers being drawn downtown on the crowd of anti-everything protestors. (What, those mall protestors were carrying hockey sticks, and zero weapons were drawn?) In so doing, they made a martyr of sorts. The next day, a large crowd of young children and teens had assembled to skate and play shinny at another community rink, this time with a crowd of parents standing watch: no masks anywhere, no physical distancing by anyone. This rink was busy well after sunset. How many more took to the ice at other rinks?

    I would like to be wrong, but all of these things seem to be guided by an invisible hand. Nothing is a coincidence.

    There are so many mixed messages. Play hockey indoors if you’re a millionaire NHL player, or an elite international player, but don’t play shinny or skate outdoors at the community rinks if you’re a nobody. Then force an incident which emboldens others to protest against the heavy hand of the law by skating and playing shinny in large groups the next day. It feels like manipulation. Hockey isn’t the only game being played right now. Will the Alberta Provincial Police replace city police forces, too?

    That Covid curve is not flattened. Things should be interesting with the flames of protest being used to cook the turkey over Christmas. The collapse of the province’s health system will play right into its demise, too.

    Reply
  7. Hana Razga

    December 22nd, 2020

    Jason Kenney will be crushed. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is part of his circle of friends, including John Carpay as David pointed out.

    Jason Kenney might have hoped that it would be allowed. He flogged the constitutional rights, essentially dog whistling to his base, before he finally shut most of Alberta down. A month after so many doctors pleaded with him to do just that and after more than 300 people died in that time.

    Reply
  8. Simon Renouf

    December 22nd, 2020

    Every time the “war on Christmas” comes up I think it’s worth remembering that the only time there were laws in the Anglo-American world prohibiting Christmas was in the 17th century when puritans and others of the Carpay ilk controlled parliament and colonial governments. To them Christmas was an idolatrous and papist abomination. Perhaps they should return to their roots.

    Reply
  9. Scotty on Denman

    December 22nd, 2020

    Charter rights the JCCF cite are described as “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” It’s the very first statement, Section 1.1

    There are reasons for Covid restrictions. They are prescribed by law the government made. They can be shown to be justified by the numbers of infected, hospitalized and killed by the virus. We live in a free and democratic society. That ought to cover it…

    …so why do JCCF lawyers think their clients can be excepted? There is no right or freedom that can’t be reasonably suspended or limited for good reason—like contagion that kills people?

    Absurdity is demonstrably justified as virtue signalling amongst the initiates of idiocy. They need each other more than they need brains.

    Reply
  10. David Bridger

    December 22nd, 2020

    The UCP is all about business operating like there is no health issue in play.

    This is pure ideology. The economy is structured in a way that people need jobs and low paying jobs along with welfare and unemployment to force people to work for what the business class’s will offer. We in the working class are not really free.We have to keep working or face the alternative of unemployment or welfare. While business likes to complain about those on welfare, they want welfare as a tool to keep most of us working however the low pay.

    We are not slaves or serfs but just try to buck the one sided arrangement and add in credit card debt to keep us in line and our noses to the grindstone and we are effectively little better off than slaves or serfs.

    Reply
    • Caron

      December 23rd, 2020

      Dave: back in the day we had our noses rubbed in the taxation records from the time of the serfs in England. A serf (a tenant farmer on the war-lords’ land) never had to surrender more than 10% of his crop, even in times of war. Slaves were at least provided with food and shelter all year. Now the Canadian serfs live in lawless anarchy, their land subject to theft by whatever bunch of creeps happen to come along and slaves get nothing once UI and welfare run out except for a world of humiliation on the way down.

      The great innovation of the United States was to make that awful system into something malignant and depraved.

      Oh, excuse me, did I say “war-lords’ land?” They call themselves the “aristocracy” or “Royals.” My most humble apologies as I tug my forelock, remove my hat, and bow low while walking backwards.

      Reply
  11. Albertan

    December 22nd, 2020

    So these folks are saying, and believing, that it’s Dr. Hinshaw’s restrictions that are violating the constitution? Have they not heard her say that she is merely an advisor to the Kenney UCP government? Could it also be, that Dr. Hinshaw doesn’t make a single move without the Kenney UCP rubberstamping it first? Is it understood that if the Kenney UCP government had implemented restrictions sooner that Xmas in Alberta may have been saved, let alone lives and more folks getting COVID? Who do these people vote for? Is this a situation of not seeing the forest for the trees?

    Reply
  12. tom in Ontario

    December 22nd, 2020

    Perhaps the good people of Northside Baptist and Heights Baptist and three individuals possess knowledge lacking in a more skeptical public. Religious responses to the Black Death are explained in the Ancient History Encyclopedia. “The plague was contagious and could be passed between people but one could protect oneself through prayer, penitence, charms and amulets.”

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      December 23rd, 2020

      I assume you were going for sarcasm, Tom, but unfortunately I think these people do expect to be protected through prayer.

      Reply

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