'You will not be able to do it': Former solicitor general doubts B.C. can enforce travel restriction
VANCOUVER -- The upcoming health order restricting travel between B.C.'s health authority regions has a lot of people wondering just how it will be enforced.
During a news conference Monday, Premier John Horgan announced that roadblocks are going to be set up to stop vehicles and question people on where they live and where they’re going in an effort to curb non-essential travel.
“This will be conducted through random audits not unlike road side stops for Counter Attack during the Christmas season,” said Horgan, referring to the campaign against drunk driving. "There will be a fine if you are travelling outside of your area without a legitimate reason.”
But former solicitor general and police chief Kash Heed told CTV News he doesn’t think policing agencies will enforce the order, which is expected to be introduced on Friday.
“I don’t think you can move the success of the road blocks for drunk driving to this particular order because it’s almost an arbitrary detention of the individuals in that vehicle and questioning them, which has nothing in relation to a legal matter that I am privy to,” he told CTV News. "To stop someone, ask them for their identification and then determine whether he or she has some type of authority to enter that other health region is going to be highly problematic.”
Heed added the cost is enormous for Counter Attack programs that are in place over the holidays, saying that many of the officers involved are on overtime hours, which means they get double their normal pay.
“They come back on shift on their day off to conduct these types of roadblocks. This is our typical experience with drunk drivers here in British Columbia,” he said. "You have to have X amount of officers, there’s a minimum number required to partake in this type of activity. You have to have specially designated signs on the road advising people, you have to have it outfitted a certain way for officer safety.”
The BC Civil Liberties Association is also raising questions about the order. Executive director Harsha Walia noted that it's so far unclear how "essential travel" will be defined, and whether the rule will also apply to "pedestrians and cyclists and people on public transit."
"Is it everybody moving?" Walia asked.
She added that the key concern is the increase in enforcement powers.
“Premier Horgan attempted to differentiate or distinguish B.C. from Ontario. On the face of it there is no difference in terms of granting police increased enforcement powers to do random checks,” said Walia. "Black and Indigenous and racialized communities will be targeted. That will not be random, that will be a systemic pattern.”
Horgan said in his news conference Monday that they had consulted with, “the BIPOC community to make sure that we bring forward these restrictions in a way that does not give anyone fear that there will be additional repercussions. This is about travel. There will be no additional authority given to police.”
Walia said the BC Civil Liberties Association was not consulted.
“I think this is a lot of huff and puff, I think at the end of the day you will not be able to do it,” said Heed.
Solicitor General and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is set to announce more details on this order on Friday.