Would a travel ban impact our Charter rights?


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said he's not ruling out any possibility when it comes to travel restrictions.

Today, he announced that further restrictions may be coming in the next few days.

For months calls have been growing to bar international travel to and from our country, which inherently infringes upon one of our Charter rights: freedom of mobility.

NEWSTALK 1010 spoke to an expert on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, University of Ottawa retired professor Michael Behiels.

Section 6 reads in part "Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada."

But there's another part of the Charter that can override that, Behiels says - Section 1, which states these freedoms are subject to reasonable limits.

"No freedom is absolute," Behiels says. "In the context of COVID-19, the government is responsible for looking after the stability of the government and the stability of the society. If it means restricting movement for any number of reasons including the pandemic, then the government can go forward with that."

Even if international travel was completely banned, and someone wanted to challenge that in court, Behiels says it's a losing battle for them.

"The government would essentially use Section 1 because it's seen by the court as a very reasonable request and limited request."

In other words, it's something that would impact all Canadians relatively equally, and it would be an action taken to protect the greater good of our society.