'Flat Earther' appears in B.C. court on charges of breaking quarantine
VANCOUVER -- Makhan Singh Parhar was back in court Monday on charges he broke quarantine rules put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Last month he went to the United States to attend Flatoberfest, a conference for people who believe the Earth is flat. Upon returning he was told to quarantine, but New Westminster police say he broke the rules.
He was ticketed at the time, and arrested due to allegations of repeated violations.
And, "because he continued to violate the quarantine act by going out into the public," according to police, he remained in custody.
But Parhar said he shouldn't have been forced to quarantine, because he's "perfectly healthy.
"I was in jail – all my vitals were checked. They said, 'You’re spot on,' but then I’m assumed to be a potential killer of everybody," Parhar told CTV News Monday.
"Our freedoms are at stake here."
Parhar walked into court amid cheers from a small group of supporters calling the coronavirus pandemic a hoax. Many held signs with messages such as, "COVID-19 is fake."
"This pandemic has turned into a case-demic,” said Parhar.
"I know healthy people that are testing positive. And then Bonnie Henry and the media and the government are reporting cases are up, cases are up."
The fact is, cases are up. The same day Parhar was in court, the province reported more than 600 positive tests per day over the last three, and nine additional deaths during that period.
Parhar's take: "We're being scared into submission through fear. Healthy people should not be quarantined. The sick need to be quarantined."
A lawyer weighed in on the issue.
"Obviously if you compare one year ago to now, for sure your rights are different, but we have to remember the point of this law is to effect your rights," Jordan Donich said.
The Quarantine Act came into effect because "that’s what’s needed, at least according to our public health officials, to combat the virus,” Donich said.
But the act is not meant to be unilateral or indefinite.
"I think it’s a good thing laws are challenged by everyone and anyone when they have an opportunity," he said.
"We don’t want our government and elected officials to have unlimited power and free will to do whatever they want."
Donich also explained that claiming the law is a violation may be an accused's best defence.
"If you're under order to quarantine and you leave your house and you're caught, you can't say, 'It wasn't me,'" he said.
"If you’re going to fight it, your only defence, I think, is the law’s not valid or it’s not being applied properly to me."
That’s what Parhar appears to have planned. He’s filing a claim in his case against government officials.
"We’ll stand up against the infringement on the right and freedoms of every man and woman. Healthy people should not be quarantined. The sick need to be quarantined."
Parhar is back in court Nov. 23.