A Calgary judge has issued an injunction banning a weekend rodeo rally planned to protest public health restrictions related to COVID-19 and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, rejecting organizers’ argument that it would be a political rally.
BREAKING: Judge Rock issues injunction against planned weekend rodeo even though lawyers argue it was a political rally
Referring to this poster, Rooke says, “If it looks like a duck, and it squawks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” pic.twitter.com/DAFccY1H5R
The event has been billed as “No More Jason Kenney Pro Rodeo Rally,” and its poster is a “weekend rodeo action” with $15 tickets sold at the gate.
“There isn’t much to challenge,” Alberta Health Services attorney Kyle Fowler said. “The event is not allowed to continue.”
Organizers Tay and Jill Northcott were behind an earlier protest rally near Bowden, Alta, last month, which drew an estimated 3,000 people, and resulted in charges being brought under Alberta Health Act.
Northcott has pleaded not guilty to the contempt of human rights charges and will face another judge later.
Postponing “Not by Choice”
In response to Friday’s injunction, Northcotts announced that it would postpone the event.
“We want to be clear that we are not deferring this by choice,” Ty Northcott said in a written statement posted to Facebook.
“That’s what AHS and Justice Rooke forced us to do. We would never have dreamed that in a free country, it would be illegal to do a rodeo.”
Northcote has objected to a plan to let Calgary Stampede go ahead in July based on the expectation that Alberta would be in Phase 3 of its reopening plan. The boycott is currently in the first stage.
“Prime Minister Kenny probably doesn’t like the name of our event: ‘No More Jason Kenny Pro Rodeo’,” Northcott said.
If she looks like a duck
Currently, only 10 people are allowed to attend an outdoor gathering in Alberta, and the number of people allowed at protests and gatherings is unlimited if other health orders are complied with, including masking and physical distancing.
At Queen’s Bench Court in Alberta on Friday, Northcotts attorney Jay Cameron argued that the event was a “political rally that includes rodeos” and suggested that AHS could issue tickets to those who did not comply with public health restrictions.
But John Rock, chief justice of the Supreme Court, was not convinced.
In his ruling he said that the planned event was supposed to be a rodeo: “If it looks like a duck and is like a duck and walks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
Rooke judged that there is a potential for irreparable harm to those present and those who will be in contact with them afterward.
Controversy sparked over the premier’s dinner
The hearing became more political when Cameron argued that Kenny himself was not following AHS rules.
Cameron said: “The Prime Minister, ministers and staff have been photographed in an outdoor setting violating a number of public health orders.” “The Minister of Health was photographed at that event.”
Earlier this week, three ministers, Kenny and other staff members, dined al fresco on an 11th-floor balcony on the Alberta Legislature grounds in Edmonton, apparently in violation of Alberta’s Phase 1 rules for outdoor and social gatherings.
The group was photographed by an anonymous guide who sent the photos to the media.
After the injunction was issued against his clients, Cameron recorded on the record that all Albertans were subject to public health orders and court orders.
“Any such order will apply to the health minister himself the next time he goes to lunch with the prime minister,” Cameron said.
Rooke has refused to allow this line of controversy and said Cameron is welcome to file an application in court alleging the PM and MLAs are also violating public health restrictions
“Two errors do not rectify, assuming there is an error in this event,” said Rock.