Details of British Columbia’s plans to restrict travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are set to be announced in late April 2021, but legal experts already smell trouble.
The new order will give police across the province the ability to conduct COVID-19 roadblocks, with the goal of minimizing travel between regions. Civil rights and criminal lawyers have looked at the order, and stated that some parts of it will likely be challenged in court.
Executive Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association Hasha Walia says that law firms like MyDefence know that the police don’t have the legal authority to ask people things like “Where are you going, where are you coming from, for what purpose”, or any questions of that nature. The plan would grant them that power.
They say that this means that the plan is not like the anti-drinking and driving campaigns that B.C.’s politicians are comparing it to.
Criminal Lawyer Kyla Lee backed that up, saying that, for legal experts, practitioners, and law firms like MyDefence, it’s going to be worth keeping an eye on how the B.C. provincial government will get people to answer inquiries at a roadblock.
Lee says that the plan wouldn’t be effective due to the fact that Canada is working on the honour system. This means that if someone is travelling for work, they might have to provide additional documentation on the matter. She says that it might not be needed.
Lee expects that British Columbians who have been hit with fines for moving through health region boundaries. She noted that they expect that everyone who is getting a ticket for the matter will consider challenging it that a lot of people will do so.
Other legal experts questioned the plan regarding which travellers they’d be pulling over. They say that one of the ways that system racism in policing plays out is that people of colour, particularly the younger ones, are presumed guilty.
The legal experts are wondering how the B.C. government is envisioning how this plan will work out, which is why they’re eagerly waiting for details on the matter.
The provincial government states that it’s not targeting people of colour or daily commuters, but punishing people that travel health regions for recreation, with talks about setting up roadblocks on Highway I leaving Metro Vancouver, as well as B.C. Ferries’ terminals.