Need an expert? COVID-19 and interprovincial crossings

Posted on Thursday, April 2, 2020

Line of cars brought to a stop

Members of the media may directly contact the following experts:

Errol Mendes (English only)

Full Professor, Faculty of Law – Common Law Section

Professeur titulaire, Faculté de droit – Section de common law

emendes@uottawa.ca

The government of Quebec decided to restrict cross-border travel to try to stop the spread of COVID-19, screening travellers who enter the province and denying entry to those whose reasons for travelling are not considered essential. This applies to the interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau. Is it constitutional?

“Unless government can give strong evidence why it is a reasonable and proportionate limit on the Sec. 6 Charter right of mobility within Canada, these exclusions for non-essential travellers may well be unconstitutional,” said Professor Mendes. “The relevant part of the Charter 6 provision states: "Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right: a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province".”

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David Robitaille (French only)

Full Professor, Faculty of Law – Civil Law Section

David.Robitaille@uottawa.ca

“In my opinion, although we are in times of crisis - and perhaps even more so in times of crisis - it is important not to ignore the principles that underlie our democratic and constitutional system,” says Professor Robitaille. “While a province has the power to limit travel between different parts of its territory, only the federal government, in my view, has the power to control interprovincial boundaries.”

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