The Alberta premier’s plan to waive COVID fines is a legal precedent, which requires legislation: experts | Media Pyro


Premier Danielle Smith is investigating legislation for amnesty for people who have been fined for violating COVID-19 public health orders in the early years of the pandemic.

“The things that stand out to me are the people who were arrested as ministers (and) the people who were fined for not wearing masks,” Smith told reporters on Saturday at the annual meeting of the United Conservative Party.

“These are not things that should be fined and prosecuted. I will look at the range of maximum fines and get legal advice on what we can waive and grant amnesty.”

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The Wine Church in Edmonton was awarded $80,000 in July 2022 for stopping a health inspector there to see if everyone was wearing a mask and keeping social distance. again, as directed by the then Public Health Order.

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GraceLife Church, located west of Edmonton, ignored public health restrictions for months and pastor James Coates was arrested in February 2021. He was released without bond after 35 days in prison.

According to an associate law professor at the University of Calgary, federal fine waivers are known as amnesty and have been done by provincial and federal governments in the past.

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“There used to be a law called the Fines and Penalties Act in Alberta that allowed the lieutenant governor and the province to issue a [fine],” said Lisa Silver.

“But according to that law, a report on all pardons must be submitted to the Legislature within a few days of the session of the Legislature.”

“It’s not something that just happened, and then people walked away from it. We need to talk more about it.”

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Silver said the justice minister was previously the state’s attorney general under the superseded law, giving them the power to issue recommendations or consider requests for remission of fines. and punishments.

“In the past it has been done, but it has to be done legally.”

At the Federal level, the Governor General can exercise the power of mercy in cases where there is “great wrongdoing or great danger.” Because of Canada’s track record of suspensions, enforcement is difficult. From 2013 to 2018, there were only two releases.

Although there are precedents in provincial law, Silver said those sections of the law no longer exist and new legislation is needed.

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“It’s in the Criminal Code — the ability to extort money from the governor and the council — so it’s not unheard of. But again, it means that it’s a power within a statute, a power that’s not tied to a specific type of crime,” Silver said.

“Of course there’s power there for very unusual situations.”

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Silver said he does not know how the amnesty process will end, if it is enacted.

“The question is, can you give it back or do you have to use all your appeal rights first before you can get a pardon? I don’t know,” said Hiriwa.

Monday, their appeal by the Church in Wine was dismissed by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.

“[Church in the Vine’s] The appeal was dismissed by the King’s Bench, but they appealed to the Court of Appeal. Do they have to do it before you can apply for forgiveness? I don’t know.”

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Irfan Sabir is the critic of the NDP’s right. He said Smith’s comments encouraged illegality.

“Intimidation of politics in the administration of justice is not good,” Sabir said in a statement on Monday.

“No one in the Prime Minister’s Office should ever claim that they have authority over the courts.”

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