A judge set the hearings Tuesday morning for British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who was named as a defendant in a Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy (CSASPP) class action lawsuit.
Henry and British Columbia Secretary of Health Adrian Dix did not respond to the Western Standard for comment after Tuesday’s hearing, nor did they address him publicly.
The hearing – a judicial administration conference – was strictly procedural, meaning it was not intended to deal with the allegations made by CSASPP in the lawsuit.
The goals of CSASPP’s civil process are to “obtain any available civil remedy for the maximum number of British Columbians who have in whole or in part any COVID-19 related law, ministerial order, ordinance or other executive, regulatory or reverse legislative measure; Past present or suggested; that restrict any activity of a person who is not inadequately supported by either science or law ”, as written on their website.
“We have had support from councilors, doctors, biostatisticians, two former Canadian Prime Ministers (including Brian Peckford of Newfoundland) … Prime Minister of Canada, a former federal government opposition leader and many others,” said Kip Warner, executive director of CSASPP, in an interview with the Western Standard on June 3rd.
CSASPP initially filed its class action lawsuit on January 26, 2021.
A hearing date was set at the hearing on Tuesday.
It is important to note that this is a class action and Henry was not charged with a criminal offense. The attorney general says the provincial health officer denies all allegations and Henry – who is named as a defendant – has an opportunity to defend himself.
This will take place at the negotiation date mentioned above, depending on the certification hearing scheduled for the week of June 20, 2022.
“For those of you who are unfamiliar with class actions, a certification hearing is very important, arguably more important than going to court,” writes CSASPP.
Once certified, Henry will be sent a form for a discovery investigation, which will be done well in advance of the trial.
Crown argued Tuesday it was too early to set a date for the trial but was unsuccessful.
While many of CSASPP’s supporters are grappling with the distant deadlines, the organization itself is happy with the timing given how well the courts are secured, especially as delays due to COVID have only gotten worse.
Both parties will return to their second court case planning conference on September 27, 2021, and instructions on how the public can listen will be updated on the CSASPP website in a timely manner.
British Columbia saw 17,350 business closings in April 2020; an increase of more than 200% from 7,623 in 2019, according to statistics from Canada.
“I don’t see any quick recovery in the industry. It will be years before things return to normal when there is a normality … the new normal, as they call it, ”said Eduardo Bilardello, owner and chef of Brioche Urban Eatery, the Western Standard.
Eduardo was one of many business owners who felt they were not part of the government’s “we are all together” philosophy.
Henry ordered further restrictions in Central Okanagan on August 6, forcing the closure of nightclubs and bars that did not serve food – again.
Guests at restaurants will have to limit themselves to groups of six or fewer, and liquor service will now cease at 10:00 PM
In Central Okanagan, fitness studios, among other things, are not allowed to operate with high intensity.
At a press conference in late July, Henry warned the public “that there are consequences for people who are not vaccinated,” adding that “this will be important to us when we go into the fall”.
“When you are in the Okanagan, the best you can do to overcome these limitations is to get vaccinated today and encourage everyone in your life to do the same,” Henry said at a last minute press conference on Aug. 6.
“So we can do the things we love again and be with the people we love.”
As for the whistleblowers on Henry’s staff, CSASPP says they can arrange for encrypted phone, video, email, or text messages if requested and will take any steps reasonably necessary to maintain anonymity.
Reid Small is the BC correspondent for the Western Standard