There are still people who value civil liberties in this country.
For Bruce Pardy, law professor and executive director of Rights Probe, it’s important to ensure that people who are suffering the effects of “COVID overreach” from pandemic policies know that they are not alone and that there are still lawyers out there who don’t accept the erosion of fundamental freedoms in Canada.
“When you have been suspended or dismissed from your job, when the government has closed your business, when your kids have been prevented from going to school, or your family has experienced deterioration of physical and mental health, it is natural to believe that your own society has turned against you,” Pardy told The Epoch Times.
Citing how COVID rules “erode civil liberties strategically” by restricting people’s ability to work, shop, travel, and socialize and are mandated by unelected health officials “without public scrutiny or open debate,” Pardy and a team of fellow Canadian lawyers launched the “Free North Declaration” campaign in November, calling for the immediate end of vaccine passports and mandates enforced across Canada.
The lawyers are also calling for a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic and for Canadians to be given back “control of their own lives.”
“We wanted Canadians to know that there are still some lawyers who believe in civil liberties, and do not accept what is happening in this country,” Pardy said. “So far, legal challenges to COVID restrictions have been largely unsuccessful, but it is not for lack of trying.”
As of Jan. 5, almost 500 lawyers and over 60,000 concerned citizens have endorsed the declaration.
On New Year’s Day, Pardy and his team released a video, outlining the current threat and potential solutions, saying that the declaration is an important first step to claim back civil liberties.
In the video, Pardy tells the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which nobody dares to say they can’t see the king’s outfit except for the child who fearlessly blurts out “the king is naked!”
“We’re hoping to be the child in the parade, saying there are no clothes here and we’ve all been subjected to these extreme measures that are really unjustified. And the result of those measures has been to infringe our civil liberties,” he said.
Pardy added that COVID rules have been carefully implemented not to run afoul of the law or trigger protections in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms such as liberty and security of the person, the freedoms of association, assembly, expression, conscience, religion, and mobility rights.
“Where COVID rules appear to have violated the Charter, courts have deferred to the state to take whatever measures it deems necessary, whether demonstrably justifiable or not,” he said.
Christopher Nunn, a lawyer in Simcoe, Ont., who also signed the declaration, said although COVID rules don’t appear to violate civil liberties when viewed individually, they become “very dangerous” when put together collectively.
“They don’t on their own, each one of them, don’t infringe on our liberties, but collectively when you have so many things, and it’s such a gradual, for lack of better terminology, a slippery slope, where we slowly [become] like a frog in water, in the hot water,” Nunn said in the video.
“People are becoming desensitized to all these overreaching measures by the government.”
Legal Community Failing Canadians: Signatories
Signatory Lisa Bildy, a private litigation lawyer in London, Ont, said she noticed how some lawyers have changed their attitude towards the unvaccinated over the past year.
“A year ago, in the legal publications for other lawyers, the discussion was ‘Can employers mandate the vaccines?’ and the consensus seemed to be ‘No, they can’t,’” she said in the video.
“Then suddenly, a year later, the consensus is ‘Yes, they can and they must. And by the way, they should be terminating you for cause.’”
Bildy said those lawyers have done a disservice to people, making their lives “as miserable as humanly possible.”
Signatory Stephen Penney, a corporate lawyer in Cambridge, Ont., said he is frustrated to see people having no one to turn to for legal advice when it comes to COVID restrictions.
“I’ve had many people approach me who are desperate,” Penney said in the video. “They need advice, they need information, they need representation and advocacy, and there seems to be a real lack of that being offered by the legal community generally.”
The lawyers also pointed out in the declaration that the ways COVID rules are applied are “inconsistent and irrational.”
“Authorities enforce them selectively and preferentially, coming down hard on common people while turning a blind eye to the privileged,” the declaration reads.
“Covid vaccines do not prevent people from becoming infected or from transmitting the virus to others, but only unvaccinated persons are banned or required to undergo testing. People who have recovered from Covid and therefore have natural immunity are still subject to vaccination mandates even though the purpose of vaccination is to mimic natural immunity.”
Pardy told the Epoch Times that the public’s response to the campaign so far has been “fantastic and gratifying.”
“Many have said that it has given them hope that we can get our country back. But the message needs to continue to spread, one person at a time,” he said.
The law professor added that citizens must take the task into their own hands to reverse course.
“We hope that people will take inspiration from the declaration, and bravely share their convictions with others. This crisis may not end until a critical mass of people comes together to reject the prevailing narrative and demands a return to individual autonomy and government restraint,” he said.
“Public health authorities have broken our trust, and it is time for them to leave us alone.”
Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.