WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Federal Court of Canada on Friday upheld the requirement introduced by the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau which forces air arrivals into the country to quarantine at state-designated hotels.
Canadian civil liberties groups, who launched the legal battle, argued in court that the mandate was unconstitutional, contravening Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“I have… concluded that the impugned measures were within the authority of the [Administrator in Council] AIC and were within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Finally, the impugned measures do not contravene section 1(a) of the Bill of Rights. Accordingly, these Applications will be dismissed,” Chief Justice Paul Crampton wrote in the ruling.
“The rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter are not absolute,” Crampton noted.
The justice did, however, side with one of the plaintiffs, Nicole Mathis, whose quarantine location was not disclosed to her spouse, saying that the violation of her rights “cannot be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” Crampton explained the government has since remedied this violation, allowing passengers to book their intended place of quarantine in advance.
Canada’s hotel quarantine condition – introduced in February – has been the source of intense criticism, with some women reporting being sexually assaulted, while others have likened the requirement to internment camps.
The requirement also flies in the face of a hand-picked expert panel, which called on the federal government to drop the mandate, in favor of stronger adherence to the quarantine mandate in place.
Although the Canadian government is constitutionally prohibited from barring citizens from leaving the country, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has used the enhanced border security measures to discourage international travel amid the pandemic.
Apart from the hotel quarantine requirement, all entrants into Canada must also complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine. As of March 25, 2020, Quarantine Act violators may be subject to a fine of up to $537,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.