The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has written to Premier Jason Kenny and Rachel Notley to strongly urge the Legislative Assembly of Alberta not to adopt Bill 1, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, introduced on February 25, 2020.
We are unequivocally opposed to the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which proposes shockingly anti-democratic and unlawful state infringement on civil liberties and human rights.
In introducing and justifying Bill 1, Premier Jason Kenny pointed to blockades in support of Indigenous rights, characterizing them as “lawless” and a “mockery of the principle of the rule of law.” In the opinion of the BCCLA, the broad and vague Critical Infrastructure Defence Act is unlawful and makes a mockery of the rule of law. The Act offends Charter-protected rights, Constitutional rights, and Indigenous and Treaty rights. It infringes on fundamental democratic rights to protest and dissent, and will have a chilling effect on the civil liberties of all people and especially Indigenous people, workers, and activists across Alberta.
The Critical Infrastructure Defence Act seeks to severely limit and criminalize democratic participation by prohibiting people from entering various spaces deemed to be “essential infrastructure.” Bill 1 proposes to designate both public and private infrastructure as essential infrastructure, and creates offenses for trespassing, interfering with operations, and causing damage. Individuals could face fines of up to $10,000 and $25,000 for first and subsequent offences, as well as possible prison time of up to 6 months.
The Critical Infrastructure Defence Act is inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of Canada. If implemented, the Act would likely breach a number of Charter freedoms, constitutionally-protected rights, and division of powers under the Constitution, including:
- Section 2 (b): Freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression
- Section 2 (c): Freedom of peaceful assembly
- Section 2 (d): Freedom of association
- Section 7: Right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice
- Sections 91 and 92: Division of federal and provincial powers
- Section 35: Aboriginal and Treaty Rights
Marlene Poitras, Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief for Alberta, has stated “Allowing the bill to pass will serve to erode individual rights, unfairly target Indigenous Peoples, and has no place in a democratic society, and I urge Premier Kenney to rescind it.”
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association calls on the Legislative Assembly of Alberta not to adopt the unconstitutional Critical Infrastructure Defence Act. We strongly urge the Legislative Assembly to ensure that Charter rights to political speech and peaceful assembly are rigorously protected and that inherent and constitutional Indigenous and treaty rights are affirmed and upheld.