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Joint Letter Regarding Unauthorized Police Enforcement of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

The BCCLA, along with Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War, Pacific AIDS Network, PACE Society, Pivot Legal Society, and Criminal Defense Advocacy Society, have issued a joint letter to the Provincial Government Regarding an Incident of Unauthorized Police Enforcement of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions.

We have been made aware of a ticket issued by the RCMP on Vancouver Island on May 1, outside of an RCMP checkpoint. The matter has been covered in the news. This enforcement action contravenes the order and contradicts what we were advised by Associate Deputy Minister Rideout. Prior to the release of enforcement details, representatives of several organizations met with ADM Rideout for the purpose of a technical briefing on April 29. At that time, we were advised that enforcement re: non-essential travel would only take place at designated RCMP checkpoints.

The unauthorized expansion of police power affirms the concerns that 11 groups first identified. On April 21, 11 community groups released an open letter to Premier Horgan, Minister Farnworth, and Minister Eby in response to the police enforcement set to accompany the Ministerial order on travel restrictions. In this letter, signatories noted that they were “deeply concerned about the overbroad and unconstitutional expansion of police powers that will disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and racialized communities.”

Today, we are requesting a full investigation into the May 1 incident, and further assurances that the Minister of Public Services and Solicitor General (MPSSG) is committed to ensuring no further unauthorized police enforcement activity will take place for the duration of this Order. Finally, we request that MPSSG send a memo to all RCMP detachments to clarify the non-derogation clause, affirming the section 35 rights of First Nations Peoples for hunting, fishing, medicines, and foods harvesting.

Read our joint letter here.