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

Kimberley Fire Department responding to mobile home fire in Marysville.
Mobile home fire in Marysville Friday evening

The Kimberley Fire Department is on scene at what appears to be… Continue reading

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

A new coalition has formed to call upon the government to make fundamental legislative changes to prioritize protecting fish, wildlife and their habitats. Doug Turner photo.
Wildsight joins coalition calling on government to prioritize wildlife and habitat protection

A new province-wide coalition comprised of more than two dozen diverse organizations… Continue reading

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

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

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 help disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

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

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

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge by Arrow Lakes

Bridge is in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Most Read