Monday, March 22, 2021

Canadian Province's Limits On Worship Services Are Upheld

In Beaudoin v. British Columbia, (BC Sup. Ct., March 18, 2021), a British Columbia trial court upheld against religious freedom challenges the COVID-19 Gathering and Events orders of the Canadian province's Provincial Health Officer.  The court said in part:

I find that Dr. Henry carefully considered the significant impacts of the impugned G&E Orders on freedom of religion, consulting with the inter-faith community to discuss and understand the impact of restrictions on gatherings and events on their congregations and religious practices....

Her decision was made in the face of significant uncertainty and required highly specialized medical and scientific expertise. The respondents submit, and I agree, that this is the type of situation that calls for a considerable level of deference....

There is a reasonable basis to conclude that there were no other reasonable possibilities that would give effect to the s. 2 Charter protections more fully, in light of the objectives of protecting health, and in light of the uncertainty presented by the Virus.

Although the impacts of the G&E Orders on the religious petitioners’ rights are significant, the benefits to the objectives of the orders are even more so. In my view, the orders represent a reasonable and proportionate balance.

Thus, the respondents have proven that the limits the G&E Orders place on the religious petitioners’ s. 2 Charter rights are justified under s. 1 of the Charter.

Cold Lake Sun editorializes on the decision.