CALGARY: The Justice Center has sent the City of Fredericton a demand letter regarding its vaccinate-only policy at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market. The New Brunswick government owns the iconic Farmers Market and rents it out to the City of Fredericton at a nominal rate. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms it applies, because it is not private property, but owned and managed by the government.
The Farmers Market announced that as of December 11, 2021, “proof of double vaccination (or medical exemption) will be required to purchase indoors, for all visitors over 12 years old.” The policy, which is the first of its kind in Canada to exclude citizens from purchasing grocery staples based on vaccination status, claims it is based on “public health guidelines.” There is growing national and international condemnation of such discriminatory policies.
On December 7, 2021, the Justice Center sent a demand letter to the New Brunswick Minister of Justice warning that the government’s new public health order of December 4, which allows private companies to deny services to free Canadians of vaccines, was unconstitutional. The Order implicitly invites grocery stores to decide for themselves whether to require vaccination of customers as a condition of entry. The warning letter from the Justice Center noted that the right to food is a fundamental human right enshrined in various international instruments, including Article 25 of the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 11 of the International covenant on economic, social and cultural rights among other human rights instruments.
“Our position remains the same in relation to any government that denies or invites private companies to deny Canadians who have not brought the Covid vaccine to an essential service such as purchasing food. Any act of this kind is an inordinate violation of the Letter and it has no scientific or legal justification, “says Andre Memauri, a staff attorney at the Justice Center.
“Vaccine-free citizens have the right to buy food, including in markets and grocery stores, and denial of that essential service is a reprehensible and illegal act of cruelty and discrimination,” continues Mr. Memauri.
On December 14, 2021, three members of Parliament representing New Brunswick constituencies, John Williamson, Rob Moore, and Richard Bragdon, issued statements condemning the New Brunswick government’s ‘winter action plan’ that it granted to the Retailers and grocery stores allowed to reject vaccine-free Canadians. .
“These are violations of our Constitution that completely ignore our Letter rights and freedoms, ”says Mr. Memauri. “Depriving citizens of food in a market is shameful and it is good to see that parliamentarians are starting to draw a line and also condemn this practice.”