FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

A B.C. human rights group says that throwing out the threat of travel restrictions without concrete details is “very scary.”

Premier John Horgan announced plans for travel restrictions between the province’s regions Monday (April 19) but offered few details about how they would be enforced and what areas they would apply to.

Since then, the premier and his public safety minister have made differing statements on how the policy would be enforced, but all have involved the use of police.

Meghan McDermott, interim policy director at the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said that the travel restrictions will become another infringement on the rights of the province’s residents.

“And (it) adds to the stress of our time – and we’re already very stressed,” McDermott said.

Part of what’s frightening, she added, is the lack of details coupled with the enforcement being carried out by police.

“I know that the government has now tried to placate some fears by saying, ‘oh, no, it won’t be that random,’ and that they won’t just discriminate as, they tend to do just kind of operating in law enforcement in general, because we’re going to set up like counter attack, so it’ll be at these main arteries,” McDermott said. “But even with that approach, as soon as you involve police officers, they have discretion under our laws to to enforce criminal laws, any provincial offences and bylaws.”

Police themselves have come out in opposition to the new rules. In a statement, Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, said that his organization has heard “loud and clear” opposition to the incoming order from RCMP officers.

“In addition to shouldering an already heavy and increasing workload, participating in enforcement ‘roadblocks’ puts even greater pressure on limited resources and puts our members at further risk of exposure and possible infection,” Sauvé said.

“Equally important, we are continuing to enhance and build on our relationships with vulnerable and racialized communities, and the ambiguity and potentially negative impacts of these orders risk reversing this progress.”

McDermott agrees. The BCCLA has been advocating against police stops and random street checks for years.

“We are plugged into these communities and know just about how harmful to the relations and public trust it is to have police being able to enforce public health measures,” she said. “We just don’t think the police really should be involved with that.”

She cited the difference in police enforcement when it comes to anti-mask rallies, which are allowed to proceed, compared to RCMP shutting down rallies in support of Indian farmers.

VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

READ MORE: Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

“That disproportionate or discriminatory police action being taken against racialized communities is certainly being magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic and I would expect the exact same patterns of discrimination to occur under this order,” McDermott said.

While McDermott said she’s happy to see the government say they’re consulting with BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Colour) communities, she said that work should have been done ahead of announcing new travel rules – which could have been replaced by measures that did more to stem the rise in COVID-19 infections.

“I think the government could work better with communities, in terms of sharing the information that they have, sharing what some of their ideas are, about where the risks are, and how to mitigate those risks, and then work with communities on the ground to figure that out, instead of this kind of top down approach or secretive approach,” she said.

“B.C. is really not sharing a lot of information to other provinces, it’s really hard for people in B.C. to even know where the where the infections are, and how they’re being transmitted.”

READ MORE: Road blocks to enforce B.C. COVID restrictions on recreational travel out of health authority

READ MORE: B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

READ MORE: B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirustravel

Just Posted

The wildfire season in the Okanagan Valley region has been approached with greater apprehension and concern from area residents since the historic Okanagan Mountain Park fire in 2003. That fire burned 25,600 hectares, forced evacuations in Kelowna and Naramata impacting more than 33,000 people, destroyed 238 homes, and claimed 12 wooden trestles and damaged two other steel trestles in Myra Canyon. (File photo)
Ominous wildfire outlook if June rains don’t return to Okanagan

Dry spring is fueling potential for busy wildfire season in July and August

Joe Rich residents want logging operations in the area to stop for now until they get more clarity on slope stability and risks to the Mission Creek watershed. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Joe Rich logging poses watershed risk: residents

Area residents want the logging to stop in the area for the time being

Kelowna Law Courts. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Former Vernon teacher found guilty of historic sex crimes against minors

Anoop Singh Klair was found guilty of all eight charges against him in a Kelowna courtroom on Friday

An algal bloom on Wood Lake has residents concerned for the body of water's health. (Wendy Innes-Shaw)
‘Wood Lake looks seriously unwell’: Lake Country residents

Algal bloom appears to be getting worse, and stinky

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

The real estate market is hot in Vernon, and across the Okanagan. (John Dent photo)
North Okanagan home prices, demand continue to build

Single family home volumes up 200 per cent, worth average $647,000

A wildfire southeast of Vernon has been added to the BC Wildfire dashboard Friday, May 14, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire sparks southeast of Vernon

The fire appears to be in a remote area east of Aberdeen Lake

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Most Read