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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Castlegar pharmacy gets additional AstraZeneca vaccines

Two Castlegar pharmacies list appointment openings this week

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Castlegar City Hall. (Photo: Kristen Lawson)
City of Castlegar finance reports for 2020 show revenue losses

Some losses were offset by savings and grants

Construction will continue on Columbia Avenue for several months. Photo: City of Castlegar
Columbia Avenue detour to remain in place

There will be changes to make the detour safer and better for businesses in the construction zone

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

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

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The real estate boom across the Okanagan has not felt a negative impact from the coronavirus impact on our national economy. (Contributed)
Booming year ahead, says Kootenay Association of Realtors

Strong real estate sales continue throughout Kootenays

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in B.C.

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

Most Read