WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s attorney argues that the constitutional challenge to the pandemic powers by multiple churches entrusted to the provincial chief medical officer complicates a complex case unnecessarily. The lawyer is now asking the court to make the churches pay for it.
Seven churches in Manitoba and some church officials continued their petitions Wednesday for a constitutional challenge to the Manitoba Public Health Act in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Churches represented in court by the Constitutional Freedoms Center have argued that the chief provincial public health officer has too much power with too little oversight – and they are calling on the provincial chief magistrate to crush the legislation.
In court on Wednesday, Michael Conner, who represents the province on the case, said there are many reasons the province could delegate broad powers – the need for expertise, the ability to make decisions quickly and efficiently, and the need for flexibility .
“A broad delegation will be formed to make these decisions flexibly depending on the situation. All of these reasons play a role in a public health emergency such as a pandemic,” said Conner.
Justice Center attorney Jay Cameron told the court the churches are not against the fact that Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin has been given the authority to issue health instructions in an emergency – but that he does not have to provide evidence. Make decisions.
READ MORE: The Constitutional Challenge Challenges Manitoba’s Top Doctor’s Authority to Issue Health Directives
Cameron told the court on Wednesday that the churches would like the top doctor to submit a report after issuing an order to scientifically substantiate his work.
He said they want the health minister to be required to submit this report to lawmakers within a specified time for review and discussion.
He said there are factors other than public health that are affected by the orders under review.
“They have a doctor fighting a disease and he wants everyone locked up in their house so there is no transmission, but there are other considerations that govern society – the way society works,” Cameron told the court.
The provincial attorney argued that the practice of delegation of authority in a public health emergency is in use in every province in Canada.
“It is believed that Dr. Roussin is acting in good faith. He has no desire and we cannot assume that his decisions are not made on a scientific basis,” said Conner, adding that the public health minister is required Health Act to sign the orders.
“We are governed democratically, the applicants simply do not like what their elected representatives have enacted here.”
Conner called on the court to dismiss the motion and raise costs in the case, saying it had “unnecessarily complicated an already complex case.”
Cameron denied this in court, saying it was a matter of public interest to file the constitutional challenge.
“This has never happened before – whether or not the government can delegate this type of authority for so long without scrutiny,” he said.
Chief Justice Glenn Joyal reserved his decision on Wednesday.
The hearing is part of a two-part complaint by the churches. The second part of the hearing is due to take place in April and will focus on justifying Manitoba’s lockdown measures.