• The Low Down

Police infringement on rights ‘dangerous precedent’

The Editor,

An open letter to Chantal Lamarche – Warden of the MRC of the Gatineau Valley:

Dear Ms. Lamarche,

I’m writing to express my concern with the policing that is currently taking place in the Gatineau Valley; particularly between Low and La Pêche. The residents of Low are being severely restricted, and in some cases, even harassed by the police. I understand the need to restrict non-essential travel during this time. However the police being given complete authority to restrict every movement of the people, dictate every aspect of their daily life and dealings, is wholly and unequivocally unacceptable in Canada under any and all circumstances. … I understand the need to stop the spread of the virus, but the Charter of Rights and Freedoms still stands. Our rights cannot be suspended. The infringement upon our rights is setting a dangerous precedent going forward.

People are living in a state of fear and anxiety in Low due to the menacing police presence.  

My request is that the police would be ordered to respect the list of essential reasons for travel that has been put forth by the MRCs. The free movement of our citizens must be governed by this list, and not by arbitrary police decisions, especially when these decisions are at the individual officer’s discretion and are completely lacking in oversight. Please consider easing the police presence in Low, and ensuring that they are only restricting truly non-essential travel.

Mandatory two-week quarantines issued by the police, for citizens who have only crossed an MRC line, are a gross violation of the freedom of Canadians. This is unacceptable. In addition, these quarantines are not logical. Someone who has travelled from Low to Wakefield to pick up groceries or a prescription is less of a threat to Low than an essential worker who is being allowed to travel to Ottawa and return to Low everyday. Logic must be applied to these decisions.

Another concern is the restriction of Canadians from accessing property that they own. There is a difference between cottagers hosting a get-together at their cottage and folks who would choose to isolate their families at their rural, secondary properties; the latter pose no risk and should be allowed to access their property.

Overall, the issue that I see here is a blind enforcement of the rules, with a refusal to consider and exercise sound judgement in individual situations.

Please ensure that the rights and freedoms of Canadians, that have been entrusted to you, are protected.

Bonnie James

Low, QC

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