Churches back in Manitoba court to challenge Roussin’s pandemic powers – Winnipeg

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A group of local churches are back in a Manitoba courtroom Monday to challenge the powers of the province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, representing seven rural Manitoba churches, told a courtroom in February that Dr. Roussin’s orders are not debated, studied or open for public consultation.

Roussin has been the medical face of the COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba since the first case more than a year ago. Since then, he has issued numerous public health orders, including restrictions on retail and commercial businesses, public gatherings and faith-based congregations.

Read more:
Manitoba churches question Dr. Roussin’s pandemic powers in court hearing

During the hearing on Feb. 9, the group argued Roussin’s public health orders and decisions were made without elected oversight.

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“There is no evidence of any consultation, any advising of the house on behalf of the minister,” lawyer Jay Cameron told Chief Justice Glenn Joyal.

“So what it very much looks like is Dr. Roussin makes an order, the minister rubber stamps it and it becomes law and it impacts over a million people.”

However, Joyal pushed back, noting the government has engaged with Manitobans.

Read the constitutional challenge here:

The centre’s lawyers are representing Gateway Bible Baptist Church, Pembina Valley Baptist Church, Redeeming Grace Bible Church, Thomas Rempel, Grace Covenant Church, Slavic Baptist Church, Christian Church Of Morden, Bible Baptist Church, Ross MacKay and Tobias Tissen, the minister at the Church of God Restoration near Steinbach.

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A lawyer for the province said there are safeguards to prevent abuse of power, including all public health orders must be signed off by the health minister and meet the threshold that there is a serious or immediate threat to public health.

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“It’s not an unbridled wide-open power as my friend suggests,” Michael Connor said.

The hearing had no conclusion and the full hearing is scheduled to last eight days.

Roussin has said he will not comment on the case as it is before the courts.

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