Charter challenge filed against N.L.’s travel restriction Bill 38

Lawyer John Drover is representing Kim Taylor in a charter challenge against the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is facing a lawsuit over its legislation that controls travel into the province to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Kim Taylor has launched a legal challenge against Bill 38, after she was barred from attending her mother’s funeral in early May.

She is backed by lawyer John Drover and defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan — representing the Canadian Civil Liberties Association — who have filed an application on Taylor’s behalf under Section 6, which deals with mobility rights, of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Mobility of people is a basic, human right and she has been denied hers and we’re all being denied ours,” Drover told CBC News on Wednesday.  

“We have never had travel restrictions put in place like this. We have some of the strictest in Canada here in Newfoundland and don’t really believe that the government of Newfoundland has put the thought into it to make it comply with the charter.”

Taylor was denied entry into the province following her mother’s death under public health restrictions on travellers to Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

Now that the application is filed, Drover said he and Sullivan will push the court for an early hearing, hoping to have the case heard within the next three days, set filing dates and arrange to hear the argument within the next month. 

Damage done

Taylor was eventually given an exemption to travel to the province from her home in Nova Scotia, 11 days after being rejected.

But Taylor said she is mounting this case on principle, and is not seeking any monetary damages. All lawyers are working pro bono, and none of the parties is asking for costs.

Drover said his client’s funeral arrangements — including 14 days of self-isolation as required under public health orders — were lost in that 11-day period, and he echoes the idea that this suit isn’t only about Taylor.

“This is not about whether my client can come to Newfoundland. Yes, she can come to Newfoundland now. This is about how anybody in Canada can freely move within Canada,” he said.

“It’s not right. No province in Canada can shut its borders to Canadian citizens.”

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