Lawyers weigh in on that Lambda court case
And what does the City of Prince George have in common with the Emmy Awards?
Welcome to Thursday! Yesterday I was looking for a specific item and I went into a store on 4th Ave. to ask if they had it. They did not, but told me the names of two other stores on the block that might. I went to the first suggestion and they had the item but also suggested I check the other business before deciding. Big fan of small businesses supporting small businesses!
Before we get into things, let’s check in on municipal politics in other major interior cities, shall we?
Former Kelowna mayor charged with sexual assault alleged to have occurred while he was in office
New Kamloops mayor skips entire council meeting due to 'conflicts of interest'
OK, on to today’s newsletter:
Three area First Nations are eligible for compensation due to poor drinking water.
After several weeks of people having difficulty signing their kids up for flu vaccines, Northern Health is expanding their availability as the province confirms a small but not insignificant rise in flu-related deaths among young people.
After running for mayor, then pulling out for health reasons, then returning to his job, Todd Corrigal has announced he is resigning as CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, effecive mid-January. I previously described Corrigal as leader of the unofficial opposition to city council and it’s not clear if he will continue in that role but he does hint he is staying in the city.
In good financial news, the city of Prince George came $27.8 million under budget for major capital projects over the past year.
In bad financial news, the city spent $1.25 million on sidewalk repairs in 2022, which only accounted for 2 per cent of the total sidewalk network, and a further 44 per cent are still in “fair to poor” condition.
The city has revamped its website to be in compliance with accessibility standards. Navigating it doesn’t seem to be significantly different for me but it’s not a full-on redesign, either. Apparently they are now using Drupal to power it, which is a free, open-source content management system which Wikipedia tells me is also used by NBC, the Olympic Games, the Smithsonian, VISA and the Emmy Awards.
This isn’t about Prince George but it’s interesting and relevant: Surrey has installed a temporary facility that provides showers, laundry service, washrooms and internet access to unhoused people.
Related: Here’s a video about UNDU’s new warming trailer set up at the Mocassin Flats homeless camp in Prince George.
Don’t forget to vote in the worst parking lot in PG bracket.
Lawyers weigh in on that Lambda court case
Yesterday, CBC News published more details about the court case that led to Lambda, a Prince George nightclub that repeatedly and openly violated public health rules surrounding COVID, having all of its tickets dismissed. That story is here and was one of the most-read in the country for obvious reasons.
Many, many people had opinions on this story and the case and most broke into two camps. Either:
They were unhappy about it and believed the judge was either acting maliciously on behalf of Lambda, or had displayed a troubling amount of ignorance over how social media posts and Facebook work, or;
They were happy about the ruling because they believed COVID-19 restrictions were a human rights violations and viewed this as a victory over oppressive public health orders.
That latter view is definitely not what happened. In my commentary in yesterday’s newsletter I noted:
The dismissal of these tickets had previously been touted by Lambda in a way that could lead people to believe the judge ruled because the public health orders violated human rights. They didn’t. They ruled this way because they didn’t believe Northern Health had strong enough evidence to try the case.
So that brings us back to reaction number one. Did this judge act appropriately in suggesting Facebook posts and videos demonstrating Lambda was violating rules weren’t evidence because their account could have been hacked, signs on the club saying they would be breaking rules weren’t evidence because anyone could have put them there, and people going into the club maskless wasn’t evidence because Northern Health failed to prove they were going inside to violate the rules?
And: Did Northern Health mess up by not being prepared to answer these questions?
I’m not a lawyer, but fortunately lots of people are, and several of them weighed in on Twitter. Here are some highlights:
From a criminal defence lawyer based in Ottawa:
Not a lawyer, but mayor of New Westminster:
Criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver (who you’ll see quite a bit here):
In discussion with a former lawyer (on whether Northern Health should have lawyered up):
In discussion with another criminal lawyer:
There’s also an ongoing thread on Reddit under r/lawcanada that goes on a few other tangents.
One thing I will note is the lawyer for Lambda has said in multiple interviews, including with the Citizen and CBC, that she was ready ready to fight this case on the basis of human rights, which leads to me to believe they were ready to admit Lambda had violated the public health orders but apparently didn’t even get the chance. I wonder if it occured to Northern Health — or the judge — to simply ask Lambda “did you break the rules?” And how that would have played out. I guess we’ll never know.
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