Coronavirus: Civil liberties group calls for tickets, fines to be forgiven

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The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it’s going to fight for citizens nabbed for municipal recreational infractions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will be calling for an amnesty on all these tickets and that all the fines be forgiven afterwards, because of the unconstitutional mess that many municipal governments have put us into,” said executive director Michael Bryant.

The association has received at least 100 public complaints over the past 10 days from those who have been ticketed by bylaw or police officers for defying emergency management offences such as jogging on golf courses or exercising in parks.

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Bryant said the restrictions designed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus are an abuse of power because the recreation activities involved are usually harmless and should be met with warnings rather than costly fines.

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The former Ontario attorney general said political pressure on police and bylaw officers to ticket people is unconstitutional.

“We don’t live in a police state. Politicians should never be giving direction to police or bylaw officers,” he said in an interview.

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“We’ve had more charges laid during COVID than took place during the October crisis in 1970 when there was an actual threat to public order.

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