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

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen offices in Penticton. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen showcases local government

The RDOS has put together a video as part of Local Government Awareness Week

The future of the Okanagan Lake watershed land use will be subject of a new study supported by a $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation. (Contributed)
Grant to help develop Okanagan Lake protection strategy

Study receives $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation.

Doctor Jessica Luksts is being recognized on BC Family Doctor Day for her part in the early days of the pandemic. (Submitted)
Celebrate BC Family Doctor Day on May 19

The South Okanagan Similkameen has over 80 family doctors serving the community

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

Jim Moring, left, hands 132 letters and emails to Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki. The 132 people support Moring speaking on their behalf at the public hearing on May 17 for the development at the Kampe Estate. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton neighbourhood rallying to speak as one against development of Kampe Estate

Resident Jim Moring delivered letters endorsing him to speak on the behalf of 132 people

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

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read