Province gets injunction to block all anti-public health order protests

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Freedom Nova Scotia has organized multiple rallies in the greater Halifax area, largely ignoring public health protocols. (Freedom Nova Scotia/Facebook - image credit)
Freedom Nova Scotia has organized multiple rallies in the greater Halifax area, largely ignoring public health protocols. (Freedom Nova Scotia/Facebook - image credit)

The provincial government has been granted an injunction that will put a stop to all anti-vaccine and anti-public health order protests, including an anti-mask rally that was planned for Saturday in Halifax.

A lawyer for the province appeared before a justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Friday to make an urgent request for the ban.

The ban prevents Freedom Nova Scotia and similar groups from staging illegal gatherings in defiance of Nova Scotia's public health orders.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, was called to testify as an expert witness on the dangers of COVID-19 and the risks posed by a large gathering of people standing close together without wearing masks.

"We're in a very serious situation. We're in the middle of a global pandemic," Strang said at a COVID-19 briefing Friday.

"We cannot let a small group of individuals who willfully dismiss the science, willfully dismiss the evidence around how their actions could put other people at significant risk. We cannot allow that to happen and I'm very pleased with the judgment."

Justice Scott Norton also heard from Hayley Crichton, an investigator for the provincial Justice Department.

Crichton provided an overview of demonstrations and gatherings over the past few weeks that have violated provincial regulations on crowd size and mask protocols.

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said they are both pleased with the injunction.
Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said they are both pleased with the injunction.(Communications Nova Scotia)

Crichton singled out the activities of Worldwide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, the group behind Saturday's proposed gathering.

Premier Iain Rankin said the injunction was necessary to "crush" the third wave.

"We knew that there was some social media activity encouraging people to come out and willfully break the public health protocols that were put in place to keep people safe," Rankin said at the briefing.

"There's no question — these people don't believe in science, they don't believe in masks, vaccines — this is nothing more than an alt-right group that wants to protest things like science and we're pleased with the decision."

He added that the injunction would allow police to arrest and detain individuals attending these gatherings, as it would be a clear violation of a court order.

The injunction will remain in effect until the provincial state of emergency is lifted.

The new ban prevents Freedom Nova Scotia and similar groups from staging illegal gatherings in defiance of Nova Scotia's public health orders.
The new ban prevents Freedom Nova Scotia and similar groups from staging illegal gatherings in defiance of Nova Scotia's public health orders.(Freedom Nova Scotia/Facebook)

Protest organizers not notified of court action

Norton's order describes Saturday's rally as an illegal public gathering and says not only is it banned, but it is also illegal for anyone to try to promote such a gathering on social media.

Friday's court hearing is what is called an ex parte application, meaning the organizers of the protest weren't notified ahead of time that the court action was taking place and they did not attend the hearing.

But on its Facebook page, Rally for Freedom said the gathering was being cancelled "under duress."

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