Nenshi calls for tougher enforcement of COVID-19 measures in courts

The mayor of Alberta’s largest city says he’s frustrated to hear that tickets given to people for breaching COVID-19 public health orders are being thrown out in the courts.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the justice system needs to take the matter as seriously as police do and should be holding violators accountable.

Read more: Premier condemns large gathering at weekend rodeo as Alberta sees record number of COVID-19 cases

Nenshi made his comments during a city council meeting today as Calgary Police Commission chairwoman Bonita Croft presented.

Croft says officers are doing their best, but that the level of accountability from convictions and fines has not been enough to deter people bent on violating orders.

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The comments come as Premier Jason Kenney and chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw are to hold a news conference later today about COVID-19 and Alberta’s vaccine rollout.

Both are likely to face questions about what consequences, if any, there will be for attendees of a “No More Lockdowns” rodeo held in central Alberta over the weekend in flagrant violation of public health rules.

Read more: ‘We can see it coming,’ doctor says as Alberta reports 1,731 COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths on Sunday

At the Calgary city council meeting, Nenshi said people need to understand the rules for gatherings, mask wearing and other measures aren’t just guidelines.

“Even though the premier sometimes doesn’t sound firm on this, this is actually the law,” he said. “And it’s important that everyone follow the law because we live in a democratic society.”

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Kenney, in a series of posts on Twitter Sunday, scolded the rodeo-goers near the community of Bowden.

“Not only are gatherings like this a threat to public health, they are a slap in the face to everybody who is observing the rules to keep themselves and their fellow Albertans safe,” Kenney wrote.

Read more: Trial begins for Alberta pastor accused of violating COVID-19 health orders

“If we do not begin to bend the curve, our health care system could very well be overwhelmed in a matter of weeks.”

Alberta Health Services and the RCMP did not immediately respond to requests for comment about any potential enforcement arising from the Bowden anti-lockdown rodeo. A spokesman for Justice Minister Kaycee Madu referred to Kenney’s Sunday statement.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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