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Majority of COVID violations not making it to court: JCCF

Last Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 12:12 pm MDT

Protestors marching in defiance to rules surrounding COVID-19 during a rally in Calgary on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta has been handing out hundreds of tickets for people not complying with public health orders but they may not be worth the paper they’re written on.

While many tickets given across the province, a large majority are being thrown out in court, with only 70 tickets being paid so far and only 12 per cent resulting in convictions.

Jay Cameron, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), said there’s a simple reason why these cases are being withdrawn.

“Many governments fear accountability in front of the courts. They write these tickets and hand them out like they’re bubble gum but they know very well that some of them are not going to stand up to constitutional scrutiny.”

RELATED: Questions about police enforcement of COVID-19 rules arise after three separate weekend events in Alberta

Cameron notes prosecutors are the ones deciding whether or not to move forward with these cases using two factors: the likelihood of conviction and whether or not it is in the public interest.

He added many of the tickets are not even making it to court.

“You have people who have been fined $1,200 for sitting on a park bench which is a stupid thing to write a ticket over and is a bad use of public resources.”

The JCCF currently has challenges in five provinces, including Alberta, in an attempt to stop government-imposed lockdowns and restrictions. So far, few of those cases have actually been heard in court.

Earlier this month, the City of Calgary provided an update on its enforcement of the public health measures. Officers have handed out over 300 tickets for not wearing a face covering since the bylaw was introduced last August.

Over 200 tickets have been issued since November for violating the Public Health Act.