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Advocacy groups, police unions oppose new B.C. border rules

Last Updated Apr 23, 2021 at 12:59 pm MDT

FILE - A sign reminds British Columbians to avoid all non-essential and recreational travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ryan Lidemark, NEWS 1130 Photo)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – If you’re someone who frequently heads to B.C., you may want to pay attention as the province is set to announce travel restrictions meant to stop people from other provinces coming through.

However, several groups, including some in law enforcement, have come out against the policy.

The union representing around 20,000 RCMP members across Canada has concerns about B.C’s incoming COVID-19 restrictions on travel between provinces.

Robert Farrer is a spokesperson for the National Police Federation and said they have a lot of questions.

“Are we going to be asking our members to randomly stop people and find out why they’re travelling? What are the ramifications if they’re not travelling for a good purpose? Are we ticketing them and who is determining the purpose of that travel, whether it’s essential or not?”

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B.C.’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is set to lay out the specific details on Friday.

However, since Premier John Horgan announced the plan to introduce these restrictions, they’ve been met with resistance from a number of organizations.

Meanwhile, officials in the province have said people won’t be randomly stopped but rather roadblocks will be set up near ferry terminals and on the highway to target people travelling for leisure.

Regardless, Jay Cameron with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) said the restrictions are wrong.

“That’s an arbitrary detention. It’s akin to a kind of stop and frisk measure where you’re stopping somebody without probable cause and harassing them.”

Cameron points to Ontario’s example where the government walked back on its plan to police the border following massive backlash.

“Law enforcement agencies in some places, especially in Ontario with respect to the draconian measures that the Ford government has proposed which are essentially the same thing, has said they will not enforce them because of the constitution.”

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With the new restrictions, signs are being placed along the Alberta-B.C. border discouraging travel into the province.

“We’ll be putting new border signs along the Alberta border, reminding our travellers coming from outside the province that unless they’re coming for essential business, they should not be here,” Horgan said on Monday. “They should be back in their home communities.”

The B.C. government introduced the interprovincial travel restrictions earlier this week along with an extension of its “circuit breaker” lockdown rules prohibiting indoor dining and adult fitness activities.

The travel restrictions also discourage British Columbians from leaving their health region for a non-essential purpose.

Horgan said these rules will stay in effect until at least the May long weekend.

 

-With files from NEWS 1130